Home Making

YOUNG ADULT PROBLEMS: THE VAGINA

Care of the vagina

The vagina is a remarkably tough area of the body. It is the hallway to the cervix and uterus and the exit of the urinary system. Urine is constantly passed through it and the vagina is approximately one inch away from the anus. Intercourse constantly introduces foreign matter and the act of sex itself can be quite bruising. The vagina has to act as a barrier and protector of the womb whilst undergoing pressure from all of these external influences.

The vaginal vault has its own protective secretions in which there live normal body bacteria that attack and compete with invading organisms. The vaginal secretions contain many immunoglobulins and white blood cells in preparation for this activity. The secretions must also be lubricating enough to allow intercourse and receptive enough not to attack and kill sperm and thereby reduce the chances of fertilization.

The vagina manages all this through a very careful regulating system that keeps the acid/alkaline levels balanced and is very much under the control of the body’s hormonal system especially oestrogen and progesterone. Different times of the cycle will produce different levels of these female hormones, which in turn affect the cellular production of these secretions. These tend to thicken and take on a characteristic viscous feel around the time of ovulation, which is of great benefit to the survival chances of the sperm.

External cleanliness is important and the wiping of the urethral exit away from the vagina is as important a learned trait as wiping the anus backwards and upwards. Medicated soaps and toiletries should be avoided because these will interfere with the normal bacterial flora and natural soaps and fresh water should be the only cleansing agents. Vaginal perfumes are not to be encouraged. Any unpleasant odour is generally due to dietetic problems, hormonal imbalances or infections and should be treated appropriately. Cleanliness is especially important throughout menstruation. Old blood is a perfect medium for bacterial growth. External pads are theoretically more hygienic than internal tampons, but not so popular and may give a greater rise to discomfort and odours. Both should be changed frequently in any case.

Vaginal douching

There is no need for a vaginal douche as a regular cleansing mechanism. The healthy body will produce ample lubrication and immune response to protect the vagina and a douche should only be used to support this basic cleansing mechanism. Douching should not be performed during a period because the cervix may be slightly more open and may allow easier access for infection. However, this is generally counteracted by the blood flow and therefore douching may be desirable if the vagina is uncomfortable or odorous or in preparation for sexual intercourse.

Douche only when necessary.

Douche bags are available from chemists or ask your GP for a 50ml syringe.

Preferably use boiled water in the preparation of a douche.

A basic cleansing solution may be obtained by adding one tablespoonful of cider vinegar to one pint of water or one tablespoonful of live yoghurt to one pint of water. These quantities may be doubled in the case of a vaginal discharge or infection. Douching with these solutions may be done up to every 4hr and may be very beneficial in infections if used on an alternating basis.

Boric acid (500mg in half a pint) of water can be used, but not more than once a week.

Douching solutions can be made from Hydrastis, teatree oil and zinc sulphate (one tablespoonful of a 2 per cent solution to one pint of water), but generally only use these for treatment rather than regular hygiene.

Arnica or Calendula lotion may be used at a dilution of one tablespoon per pint of boiled water.

All of the above can be used up to four times a day in acute infections but if there is no improvement after five days then bring the problem to the attention of your doctor or gynaecologist.

Vaginal discharge

A vaginal discharge is either due to excessive secretion or the action of the vaginal defence mechanism. The former is usually associated with sexual excitement or hormonal or neurological stimulation. The latter is a general reaction in an attempt to flush out any foreign object or organisms that may be causing irritation.

Candida tends to produce a thick whitish discharge with a typical yeasty smell, soreness and itching. Green/yellow discharge is indicative of bacterial infection – Streptococcus or Trichomonas are the most frequent. A grey discharge is often associated with Gardnerella, and Chlamydia often produces a clear, runny discharge.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Follow the douching instructions in the section above.

Use the homeopathic remedy Kreosotum 6 four times a day if Candida is suspected and Mercurius 6 for any other infection until a more accurate selection can be made from your preferred homeopathic manual or via a homeopath.

As for any infection, stop caffeine, alcohol, smoking and other drug intake.

Ensure adequate hydration.

Foreign objects

A foreign object may well be found in a vagina in children or infants who show a discharge. Adults are less likely to be unaware of the contents of the vagina but all too frequently internal tampons may be forgotten. Bacteria have a predilection for living in a blood-soaked tampon and a syndrome known as Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) is a surprisingly common occurrence. In this condition bacteria grow at a rapid rate in a forgotten tampon, release toxins and cause severe poisoning, not infrequently resulting in death.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Do not forget that objects have been placed in the vagina – whether for medical reasons or for enjoyment.

Daily washing should include a brief inspection using your fingers, especially around the time of the period.

Any object that is not easily removed should be left in place and taken for medical extraction.

Irritated or itching vagina

Itching of the vagina is most commonly found on the outer lips (vulva) but can be anywhere. It is generally caused by minor infections or contact dermatitis from irritating creams and deodorants. In older ladies the menopause leads to a diminution in normal secretions, which automatically encourages dryness and potentially infection. Different stages of the normal menstrual cycle may alter the level of secretion, protection and normal vaginal flora, and this may lead to an irritation.

The quality of the vaginal secretions is dependent upon nutrition, and deficiencies in nutrients and excesses of sugar and toxins, such as from smoking and alcohol can lead to irritants being expressed through secretions. Poor hygiene will lead to mild infected irritation, and fungal infections by skin fungi can affect the vagina in the same way as athlete’s foot.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Please follow the above recommendations for the care of the vagina. See Vaginal douching and Vaginal dryness.

Ensure good hydration by drinking half a pint of water per foot of height per day.

The homeopathic remedies Sulphur or Graphites, potency 6, may be taken four times a day until a better remedy is selected from your preferred homeopathic manual.

Arnica or Calendula cream or lotion may be applied as frequently as is necessary to reduce irritation.

Infections of the vagina

Vaginal infections may be asymptomatic (without symptoms), or present as a discharge which may be coloured or clear, an irritation or a pain, or may only be discovered during intercourse.

The vaginal vault has a considerable amount of its own normal bacteria which compete with bad bugs for food, thereby keeping unwanted bacteria at bay. Provided regular hygiene is maintained, vaginal infections are infrequent.

A persisting problem requires a medical examination whereby a swab may be sent to a laboratory for culture to see if anything is growing.

Vaginal pessaries containing one or a combination of the following as instructed on the container or by a complementary practitioner are beneficial: teatree oil, Hydrastis, Calendula, Pau d’arco.

Any persistence of a problem despite treatment after five days should be reviewed by your GP or gynaecologist. If any discomfort appears to be travelling to the uterus or lower abdomen visit your specialist straight away.

Ensure that you have a high intake of vegetables of all varieties because mineral deficiencies can lead to persisting cramps, etc.

Persisting pains with no obvious reason must be brought to the attention of a medical practitioner, orthodox or complementary to begin with. ‘

RECOMMENDATIONS

Follow the douching instructions in the section above.

Use the homeopathic remedy Kreosotum 6 four times a day if Candida is suspected and Mercurius 6 for any other infection until a more accurate selection can be made from your preferred homeopathic manual or via a homeopath.

As for any infection, stop caffeine, alcohol, smoking and other drug intake.

Ensure adequate hydration.

Foreign objects

A foreign object may well be found in a vagina in children or infants who show a discharge. Adults are less likely to be unaware of the contents of the vagina but all too frequently internal tampons may be forgotten. Bacteria have a predilection for living in a blood-soaked tampon and a syndrome known as Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) is a surprisingly common occurrence. In this condition bacteria grow at a rapid rate in a forgotten tampon, release toxins and cause severe poisoning, not infrequently resulting in death.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Do not forget that objects have been placed in the vagina – whether for medical reasons or for enjoyment.

Daily washing should include a brief inspection using your fingers, especially around the time of the period.

Any object that is not easily removed should be left in place and taken for medical extraction.

Irritated or itching vagina

Itching of the vagina is most commonly found on the outer lips (vulva) but can be anywhere. It is generally caused by minor infections or contact dermatitis from irritating creams and deodorants. In older ladies the menopause leads to a diminution in normal secretions, which automatically encourages dryness and potentially infection. Different stages of the normal menstrual cycle may alter the level of secretion, protection and normal vaginal flora, and this may lead to an irritation.

The quality of the vaginal secretions is dependent upon nutrition, and deficiencies in nutrients and excesses of sugar and toxins, such as from smoking and alcohol can lead to irritants being expressed through secretions. Poor hygiene will lead to mild infected irritation, and fungal infections by skin fungi can affect the vagina in the same way as athlete’s foot.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Please follow the above recommendations for the care of the vagina. See Vaginal douching and Vaginal dryness.

Ensure good hydration by drinking half a pint of water per foot of height per day.

The homeopathic remedies Sulphur or Graphites, potency 6, may be taken four times a day until a better remedy is selected from your preferred homeopathic manual.

Arnica or Calendula cream or lotion may be applied as frequently as is necessary to reduce irritation.

Infections of the vagina

Vaginal infections may be asymptomatic (without symptoms), or present as a discharge which may be coloured or clear, an irritation or a pain, or may only be discovered during intercourse.

The vaginal vault has a considerable amount of its own normal bacteria which compete with bad bugs for food, thereby keeping unwanted bacteria at bay. Provided regular hygiene is maintained, vaginal infections are infrequent.

A persisting problem requires a medical examination whereby a swab may be sent to a laboratory for culture to see if anything is growing.

Antibiotics are the orthodox world’s first line of treatment but should only be used as a last resort.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Depending on the symptoms, see Vaginal discharge and Vaginitis.

Teatree oil, lavender, Hydrastis or Calendula pessaries or any combination should be considered for use as directed by the practitioner who prescribes them.

Chlamydia or Trichomonas infections may warrant an antibiotic as a first-line treatment. Odour

Odour is generally created by a bacterium or yeast infection that has settled into the vaginal vault despite the body’s normal vaginal flora. The normal flora will have a characteristic smell but should not be offensive.

Vaginal secretions, like any discharge from the body, will reflect the contents of the bloodstream, and diet will have a strong influence on the smell.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Consider diet and mild infections as being relevant. Correct the nutrition and visit a doctor for a swab to isolate any causative organism.

Please refer to the relevant section if an infection is present.

See Vaginal douching and use the technique after a sample or swab has been taken.

Do not use vaginal deodorants directly because this will interfere with the normal vaginal flora. Instead, if necessary, deodorize the groin area of the outermost clothes. of oestrogen and progesterone. These cells themselves are governed by the autonomic (involuntary) nervous system and both the hormones and these nerves stimulate the production of lubricant in response to sexual stimulus.

General dryness may be due to neurological problems but most frequently are the result of diminished hormonal activity or production. Menopause is notorious for creating vaginal dryness.

The lack of secretions leads to a diminution in the protection of the vaginal vault due to a loss of the immunoglobulins and white blood cells that attack invading organisms. The normal vaginal flora also need a moist environment, and this too will diminish. Intercourse becomes painful or irritating.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Vaginal dryness for no apparent reason, but often due to age, needs to be reviewed by a complementary medical practitioner and doctor.

Ensure that dehydration is not an aspect by drinking half a pint of water per foot of height.

If hormonal imbalances are ruled out and no neurological conditions are found, consider using non-medicated lubricants. KY Jelly is the best known, although vitamin E creams or olive oil may be used.

Ensure adequate foreplay before intercourse. This is particularly important after menopause when lubrication is physiologically diminished but still capable of being produced given enough stimulus.

The homeopathic remedies Belladonna, Lycopodium and Natrum muriaticum should be reviewed and the most suitable remedy for the individual constitution should be chosen.

Vaginal dryness

Lubrication is produced by special cells that line the vaginal walls and are under the influence

Vaginismus

Vaginismus is a painful spasm of the vagina created by constriction of the muscles within the vaginal wall. It is a nervous condition usually associated with a trepidation of intercourse. Most frequently found in teenage girls, this condition may persist and can be painful and embarrassing.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Vaginismus is not a disease and is treatable but it requires psychological intervention. Please seek a counsellor with experience in sexual dysfunction.

Do not try to force intercourse, but digital insertion may remove some of the anticipation.

Vaginal pain

Pain in the vagina is usually associated with trauma following violent or aggressive intercourse or the traumatic insertion of foreign objects. Inflammation from any cause of vaginitis, especially infection, may cause vaginal pain.

Often overlooked is a lower spinal nerve entrapment that causes a referred pain; and food allergy has been cited as creating a variation to the normal vaginal secretions, causing irritation and discomfort.

Pain of the vaginal lips (vulvodynia) is occasionally present with no known cause. This condition is thought to be neurologically based rather than a local problem.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Any pain in the vagina that is without obvious cause, severe or persistent must be reviewed by a GP or gynaecologist.

If associated with back pain or is persistent, regardless of treatments for specific problems, it may be relieved by osteopathy especially with the use of ambulatory traction as offered by a lightweight contraption fitted for a few minutes by osteopathic specialists.

Surprisingly, consider food allergy for unexplained and unremitting vaginal discomfort.

The tranquillizer amitriptyline may be of benefit in unrelenting vulvodynia.

Vaginitis

Symptoms of itching, even pain, discharge, burning, redness and pain on intercourse can all be symptoms of vaginitis.

The vagina is a resoundingly tough part of the anatomy considering the battering it gets from intercourse and foreign compounds such as sperm, douches, deodorants, tampons and condoms etc. The vagina also houses many bacteria, most of which are useful and attack bad bacteria but also, amidst the colonies, there lurk small amounts of ‘bad guys’ who are no trouble at all until the normal healthy vaginal flora are disturbed by the use of antibiotics and other drugs and chemicals such as perfumes and proprietary-made douches. Hormonal imbalance, often created by oral contraception and the eating of non-organic meats (which contain oestrogens), can all create vaginitis. Excess white sugar and specific allergic foods can also encourage bad bacterial/fungal growth.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Maintain good hygiene with daily baths and cleaning the vagina after intercourse with water or a natural douche is cleaned by washing with strokes away from the vaginal opening.

If forced into using an antibiotic or chemical douche, ensure protection through complementary medical means, including natural douches and ingestion of high doses of Lactobacillus acidophilus or an equivalent.

Avoid refined sugars (white sugar) and foods containing them through any acute episode.

Vaginal pessaries containing one or a combination of the following as instructed on the container or by a complementary practitioner are beneficial: teatree oil, Hydrastis, Calendula, Pau d’arco.

Any persistence of a problem despite treatment after five days should be reviewed by your GP or gynaecologist. If any discomfort appears to be travelling to the uterus or lower abdomen visit your specialist straight away.

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