Vaginal infections (medical term: vaginitis) are very common and can range from simple pH imbalance to a severe case of inflammation that can affect fertility or one’s overall health. Itching, burning sensation, and an unpleasant odour are some of the most common symptoms of vaginits. However, treatments vary depending on the type of infection you have. Therefore, it’s important to identify first the type of problem you have before coming up with a solution. Talk to your gynaecologist and discuss about the right treatment even for the most common types of vaginal infections.

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Yeast Infection

Yeast infection, the most common type of vaginitis, is caused by a fungus called Candida. Candida can be found in the body, including in the vagina, and does not normally cause any harm. However, this fungus thrives in moist and close environment and can multiply rapidly, which can then cause a vaginal infection. Symptoms of the condition include a thick, white discharge that resembles the look and consistency of cottage cheese, therefore it is important to see a gynaecologist for women’s health in Singapore where such cases are relatively common. Yeast infection can also cause vaginal itching and redness around the vulva.

Bacterial Vaginosis

Lactobacilli, a good type of bacteria, also thrive in the vagina. However, when these “friendly” bacteria decrease in number, it can cause a vaginal condition called bacterial vaginosis. Why the number of bacteria fluctuates is unknown, but the lack of lactobacilli levels can make room for the development of infection-causing bacteria, such as Gardnerella, the most common bacteria associated with this infection. It is the lack of good bacteria that triggers the growth of these bad bacteria, causing vaginal infection.

Trichomoniasis

Commonly called “trich,” this infection is caused by a parasite called Trichomonas vaginalis that is transmitted through sexual intercourse. Its symptoms include a burning sensation, redness, irritation and swelling of the vulva, accompanied by a greenish or yellow-grey vaginal discharge that has a funky odour. Some patients diagnosed with trich report that they also feel pain when urinating.

Chlamydia

Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted disease that causes inflammation of the vagina. Some women experience vaginal discharge with Chlamydia, while others do not. A more common symptom of this infection is bleeding, especially after a sexual intercourse. To ensure that you are safe from this disorder, see a gynaecologist annually from the time you start being sexually active, as early stages of chlamydia often does not have any symptoms and, left untreated, can cause serious damage to fertility.

Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV)

Also called “genital herpes”, HSV is caused by a virus. Unfortunately, this condition can only be controlled and can’t be cured. Most women with HSV have lesions or sores on the vulva or outside the vagina, and can only be seen during a gynaecological test. It is because of the sores why women with genital herpes experience pain during intercourse. Your gynae can provide you with medication and recommend ways to control symptoms of HSV.

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Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)

This is another condition that’s caused by a virus. And like HSV, HPV cannot be cured; it can only be controlled. Some patients with HPV don’t experience any symptoms. They only get to find out they have the virus after apap smear procedure. Others see warts—usually white, purple, or gray—growing in the vagina, vulva, rectum or groin. Some types of HPV are said to lead to certain types of cervical problems, including cervical cancer. Scientific efforts are now underway to formulate a vaccine that can protect women against HPV, which could also prevent development of cervical problems.

Vulvodynia

This is a vaginal condition in which a woman in Singapore experiences chronic pain or discomfort in the vulva for some unknown reason. The symptoms feel similar to vaginal infections: stinging, burning, soreness, rawness, and swelling. The symptoms may be occasional or constant.

Non-Infectious Vaginitis

This condition is characterized by itchiness and sensitivity around the vagina, especially when using irritants like perfumed soaps, scented tampons, and fabric softeners when washing underwear. This is not an infection though, and this can be treated and avoided by simply not exposing your genital area to whatever that irritates it.

Treatment

Treatment for vaginal infections is relatively easy, as long as you let gynaecology do its part in diagnosing any problem and prescribing you with the right medication.
Be aware of your own body. Pay close attention to the possible symptoms and when it happened. Notice the texture, colour, smell, and amount of discharge. Do not douche before a hospital visit as it can disrupt the accuracy of the test results. Some Singapore gynaecologists will even ask you to abstain from sexual intercourse 24 to 48 hours prior the examination.

Some more tips to prevent vaginitis:

• Always keep yourself clean and dry. However, it’s not recommended to use vaginal sprays and heavily scented soaps in this sensitive area. Douching can also cause irritation, and most importantly could spread an infection. It also washes away the healthy bacteria in the vagina.

• Avoid wearing clothes that traps moisture and heat. Tight jeans, nylon underwear, non-breathable leggings and gym garments, and pantyhose with no cotton pads in the area can cause lead to yeast infection.

• Eat more yogurt. The active cultures found in yogurt can help increase the number of good bacteria in the body and help prevent certain infections.

• Always use condoms. It is the best way to save yourself from getting infected with STDs.

Especially when planning for a pregnancy, a maternity test is of great importance in ensuring your reproductive health is at its best. After all, nothing compares to the security an annual gynaecogical exam can bring to your reproductive and sexual health, whether or not you are an expectant mom in Singapore. As much as possible, do not skip a visit to your gynaecologist. It is only through professional consultancy you can be sure of your health and wellness status.

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