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Vaginal Infections

Vaginal Infections

Vaginal Infections

Vaginal Infections – Cause, Symptoms & Natural Treatment

Vaginal infections account for nearly 90% of vaginitis in women of reproductive age. Untreated vaginal infections may ascend into the uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries and lead to pelvic inflammatory disease and/or infertility.

Causes of Vaginal Infections

  • Vaginitis: mainly caused by vaginal infection or overgrowth of normal micro-organisms such as Candida albicans. May also be due to allergic or chemical irritation, or low estrogen (which also causes vaginal dryness).
  • Vaginal infection: the most common organisms are Candida albicans (yeast), Trichomonas vaginalis (protozoa) or a bacteria (e.g. Gardnerella, Mycoplasma, Gonococci, etc). Bacterial infection is the most common cause.

Risk factors:

  • Vaginitis (non-infectious)
    • Low estrogen e.g. post-menopause
    • Allergic or chemical irritation e.g. toilet paper, douches or sprays, condoms, soap, dye in underwear

Vaginal infection

  • Dysbiosis / leaky gut
    • Pregnancy
    • Diabetes mellitus
    • Medications e.g. antibiotics, corticosteroid, OCP, immunosuppressive drugs
    • HIV
    • Anemia
    • Hypothyroidism
    • High sugar intake
    • Use of pantyhose, constrictive clothing, synthetic underwear
    • IUD
    • Low estrogen

Signs and Symptoms of Vaginitis

  • Genital itching and burning
  • Vaginal odour
  • Vaginal discharge
  • Inflammation of the perineal area
  • Discomfort or burning on urination

TREATMENT STRATEGY FOR VAGINAL INFECTIONS

Infectious vaginitis:

  • Provide anti-microbial herbal medicine
  • Replenish normal flora
  • Support immune function

Non-infectious vaginitis

  • Identify underlying cause
  • Reduce inflammation
  • Support healing of vaginal tissue
  • Support estrogen production (if low estrogen)
  • Remove allergens or irritants

Diet plan guidelines for Vaginitis

  • Fresh, whole food diet low in sugars, alcohol, refined carbohydrates and processed foods
  • Garlic: crushed, raw garlic is a very effective anti-fungal. 1-2 cloves a day should be consumed (may be crushed and put into capsules for convenience)
  • Coconut oil: a source of caprylic acid which has anti-fungal properties
  • Yoghurt and other fermented foods: source of probiotics to reduce Candida growth. Yoghurt may also be used topically.
  • In chronic Candida or bacterial overgrowth, systemic antimicrobial herbs should be used.  Please contact our clinic for more details

Supplements that support Vaginal Infections

Antimicrobials

  • Garlic supplement
    • Biotin –  inhibits yeast
    • Caprylic –  anti-fungal
    • Other high strength broad spectrum combinations from practitioners

Replenish normal flora

  • Probiotics:
    • Saccharomyces boulardii and Lactobacillus rhamnonus are effective in fungal infections
    • A broad-spectrum probiotic should also be considered to improve gut microflora generally.
    • Probiotic pessaries may also be effective: mix 1 tsp probiotic powder with 2 tsp natural yoghurt and insert into vagina using a syringe or applicator.
    • Systemic antimicrobial treatments are often required to stop the issue from recurring

Support immune function

  • Vitamin C
    • Zinc
    • Vitamin A

Herbal Medicine Treatment that supports Vaginal Infections

  • Antimicrobial – barberry, goldenseal, thyme, Pau d‘arco, calendula,
  • Immune stimulant: echinacea, andrographis
  • Anti-inflammatory: turmeric, ginger
  • Vulnerary: aloe, calendula, comfrey (topically)
  • Estrogen modulating: black cohosh, fennel, false unicorn root, wild yam, shatavari

Topical applications

  • Garlic pessary: a clove of garlic wrapped in gauze, coated in olive oil and inserted into vagina. Replace morning and night

Lifestyle / Physical measures

  • Keep vaginal area clean and dry
  • Avoid allergenic and chemical irritants e.g. soap, deodorants, condoms, douches etc
  • Avoid tight or synthetic fabrics
  • Wear cotton underwear
  • Avoid sexual activity until symptoms clear
  • Use proper hygiene measures
  • Add 3 cups of pure apple cider vinegar to bath water to treat vaginitis

FUNCTIONAL MEDICINE TREATMENT OF VIGINAL INFECTIONS

Vaginal infections can commonly occur in women that have underlying gut and systemic overgrowths of either bacterial of fungal organisms.  Many patients often do not realise that they have gut dysbiosis, SIBO or other infestations.

Treating the whole body rather than just one area is usually required to prevent the condition returning.  We commonly associate vaginal infections as a symptom with patients who have positive stool and SIBO tests.  If you are having recurrent infections I would encourage you to investigate further and have your gut and small intestine tested.

At our Perth clinic of Advanced Functional Medicine we assist patients that have infections and bacterial, parasitic and fungal overgrowths.  Clearing these infections can dramatically improve a person health, proving the far reaching affects these organisms have on our overall health.

If you of a family member are suffering from repeat infections we would love to hear from you.  What remedies do you use to clear your infections?  Have you treated your gut and found you no longer get vaginal infections?  Please leave a comment below.

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Jarrod Cooper – ND

Jarrod Cooper – ND

Jarrod Cooper - ND is the founder of Advanced Functional Medicine Australia. He is a Naturopathic Doctor with extensive functional medicine training from leading practitioners in the USA and worldwide.

He is leading the way with advancements of functional medicine, clinically implementing worldwide best practices in Functional Medicine throughout Australia.

Jarrod consults in person from Perth, Western Australia and also online via Telehealth throughout Australia and worldwide.

If you are looking for personalised treatment, we highly recommend contacting Jarrod Cooper’s Advanced Functional Medicine clinic in Australia.

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