The EclecticPhysician

The Eclectic Physician
Natural Health Care
by Beth Burch N.D.

Vaginal Infections-

Vaginal infections account for about half of visits to the gynecologist. Vaginal health is dependent on a proper balance of Lactobaccillus acidophilus bacteria in the vagina. In particular, there must be Lactobaccillus that produce hydrogen peroxide as well as lactic acid. The hydrogen peroxide is bacteriocidal to many harmful bacteria and the lactic acid helps to maintain an acid environment unfriendly to the growth of other bacteria. Many things can upset this balance including regular douching, spermicides, antibiotics and very frequent sexual intercourse. When the balance is upset, women can have problems with urinary tract infections as well as vaginal ones.

There are many kinds of bacteria, yeast and protozoa which can cause vaginal infections. Most are usually accompanied by some kind of discharge and irritation of the vulva. Sexually transmitted infections can also extend to the uterus and the fallopian tubes causing a pelvic infection and infertility. While gonorrhea and syphilis are still around, the most common sexually transmitted infection today is chlamydia. Chlamydia is almost epidemic, especially in younger women. Human papilloma virus is another very common sexually transmitted infection that may not cause any obvious symptoms but is linked to abnormal pap smears and cervical cancer. Trichomonas, a protozoa, and herpes simplex, a virus, are also transmitted sexually. All of these infections will need medical treatment of both you and your sexual partner. Since it is difficult to determine the kind of infection without an exam and testing, you should consult your health care provider whenever you have abnormal vaginal discharge, irritation or pain.

Yeast is a very common vaginal infection. Its symptoms are very characteristic- a white cheesy looking discharge with itching and burning of the vulvar area. Yeast is normally found in the vagina, it only causes problems when it overgrows. Antibiotics and cortisone therapy can cause yeast overgrowth. It is also common during pregnancy and with diabetes and HIV infection.

Natural treatment of yeast vaginitis includes eliminating sugar and sweets from the diet, taking vitamin and mineral supplements, keeping the vulvar area clean and dry, wearing cotton underwear, avoiding tight clothing and panty hose, and wiping carefully from front to back. Taking a lactobaccillus supplement will help to decrease yeast in the intestinal tract which will help prevent its overgrowth in the vagina as well.

Gardnerella is another common vaginal problem. It may have symptoms of discharge and vulvar irritation, but sometimes all that is present is a fishy odor, especially pronounced after intercourse. Gardnerella is especially associated with imbalance of the vaginal bacteria and often benefits from vaginal supplementation of Lactobacillus. This infection has been associated with bleeding and premature labor in pregnancy and can be treated with antibiotics.

Herbal treatment for yeast and gardnerella infections-
Tea tree oil suppositories- insert one vaginally twice a day for a week.

Goldenseal- prepare a douche by making a tea of goldenseal, 1 teaspoon(open two caspules) to 1 cup of boiling water, simmer for 15-20 minutes, strain and let cool to lukewarm, douche twice a day for a week.
Caution- both of these treatments are contraindicated in pregnancy. If you are pregnant and have yeast or gardnerella vaginitis, consult with your health care provider.

For recurrent vaginal yeast infections try-
Echinacea purpurea juice- A study from Europe using oral doses of Echinacea purpurea juice along with a vaginal antifungal medication was very effective in treating recurrent vaginal yeast infections.
Liquid juice- 1/2 teaspoon three times a day for 10 weeks
Dry concentrated juice in capsules- 50 mg three times a day for 10 weeks

* The information presented in this web site is intended to inform and educate. It is not intended replace a qualified medical practitioner to diagnose or treat medical conditions.

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