Varying from an irritating minor annoyance to a more serious long-term problem, urinary tract and vaginal infections are among the most common ailments affecting women. There is plenty you can do to complement any treatment prescribed by your doctor ensure a rapid recovery and prevent a recurrence.
Here are some suggestions and tips if have already tried them.
The most common yeast infection, known as thrush or candidiasis, which causes a thick white vaginal discharge, can be effectively treated with an over-the-counter antifungal medication.
However, if you are not sure you have thrush or if symptoms are slightly different from those you’ve had before, or if you have had a recent new sexual partner or are pregnant, it is highly advisable to seek medical advice from your doctor.
Strengthening your immune system with Vitamin C and echinacea may help your body to fight an acute yeast infection. Thc herb echinacea seems to stimulate white blood cells to destroy the yeast, and Vitamin C may inhibit yeast growth.
Probiotics, available as both ‘bioyogurts’ as well as in the form of oral supplements and a topically applied cream will boost your body’s supply of ‘friendly’ bacteria.
Don’t put it off because you know it might hurt. So, go as soon as you feel the urge because bacteria are more likely to grow if urine sits in the bladder for too long. If it’s very painful, passing urine while sitting in a warm bath can lessen the burning sensation.
Avoid drinking alcohol, fruit juices, coffee, tea and other caffeine containing drinks, which can further irritate the bladder and increase frequency or urgency of urination.
Anything that potentially irritates the delicate skin and membranes of the vulva and vagina can encourage infections to take hold, so avoid talc, deodorant sprays, bubble baths and coloured or scented toilet paper.
Choose plain, unperfumed soap or select a pH-balanced wash specially formulated for the genital area. A wash cloth soaked in cool water laid over the affected area can provide temporary relief from external itching.
Increasing your fluid intake dilutes urine and helps to flush out bacteria. Aim to drink 6 to 8 glasses of water a day.
Underwear made of cotton rather than synthetic fabrics such as nylon reduces sweating and allows the genital region to ‘breathe’, so that it stays drier, which helps to counteract yeast infections. If you are prone to such infections, avoid wearing tights or close-fitting jeans.
In women especially, bacteria may enter the urethra during sex. Passing urine immediately afterwards helps to f]ush them out. Some women find that using a diaphragm or spermicidal gel promotes infection. If so, it may help to change your method of contraception. Unlubricated condoms or those impregnated with spermicide can also cause problems. As such, use the lubricated type without spermicide instead.
Keeping the air circulating helps to counter infection, which thrives in moist, sweaty conditions. Avoid nylon underwear and tight jeans.
To avoid or introducing germs from the intestines into the urethra, women should always wipe from front to back after a bowel movement, or wipe each area separately.
After a swimming session, dry yourself thoroughly and put on clean, dry underclothes as soon as possible.
If you suspect you have Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) see your doctor. Untreated infections can spread further up the urinary tract to the kidneys, leading to a more serious problem. If an infection is confirmed you’ll probably be given antibiotics, which usually produce rapid and effective relief.
Chlamydia is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections but most people who have chlamydia don’t notice any symptoms, and so don’t know they have it. Symptoms could include painful urination, unusual discharge from the vagina, penis or rectum in women, bleeding beween periods or after sex.
Chlamydia is easily treated with antibiotics, but if left untreated, the infection can sometimes spread to other parts of your body and lead to serious long-term health problems such as pelvic inflammatory disease and infertility. If you think you may have chlamydia or would like to be screened for the disease, you can get confidential test at a women’s health clinic or hospital.