INTIMATE HEALTH: Candida, discharges, rashes dryness and vaginitis have common causes but may be symptoms of more serious infections. Natural remedies are safe and soothing and can be used with medications.
SYMPTOMS OFVAGINAL DISORDERS AND NATURAL WAYS TO COPE.
1 BURNING, ITCHING, RASHES AND SWELLING OF THE VULVA.
First check through the list of common causes and take the appropriate action. Then use these suggestions for relief:
CLEANSING: rinse the area in a weak solution of cider vinegar and salty water. Rooibos, echinachea, hypericum, calendula or suitable herbal teas make excellent rinsing and douching agents, especially when acidified with a few drops of lemon juice, cider vinegar and a spoon or two of salt. Never use bicarb or alkaline soaps as the vagina must remain acidic. Special acidic cleansing solutions are available and Nature Fresh make a herbal vaginal cleanser with Tea tree Oil or a milder Rooibos formulation. It can also be used every day in the bath and shower for general use or diluted to 5ml per cup of warm water if a douche is required. You can buy a special apparatus from the pharmacy called a Whirling Spray, made by the manufacturers of Barum enema’s. If you cannot find one, a baby’s enema or a large syringe without the needle will have to do. Only douche the vagina if your practitioner recommends it. Ladies are often confused about using soap. Keep it away from the vaginal cavity, but it can be used on the vulva or outer region. If you are not sure, use a product that is compatible for both areas.
SOOTHING: Pat yourself dry and apply a natural Calendula or Vitamin E cream to areas that are red and sore. A natural lubricating gel can also be applied frequently to stop itching and chafing. Nature Fresh make a mild gel with Tea Tree oil for infected areas or use their hypoallergenic Natural Personal Lubricant. These gels can be used throughout the day for interim cleansing when applied to cotton wool and used after going to the toilet, especially during menstruation.
REDUCING THE SWELLING: Inflammation can be reduced by taking Cantharis Compound Drops by Weleda. It has an anti-histamine action. Take a few drops directly on the tongue or in a glass of water. The tissue salt FERRUM PHOS reduces inflammation. You can suck four tablets every half hour until the pain subsides and then take them at longer intervals. Follow the ANTI-INFLAMMATORY PROGRAMME for long term relief.
STOPPING THE PAIN: Some people find that ice packs help reduce the pain and swelling. Try wetting a sanitary pad, wrap it in a waterproof plastic bag and freeze it. If this works, make a few more so you can exchange them. Take a painkiller as a last resort or ask the pharmacy for a topical anaesthetic such as Xylotox or Lignocainne.
2 WEEPY SORES, OOZING PUS, AND VERY SENSITIVE LESIONS:
These conditions are due to infections which should be diagnosed and treated by a doctor. In cases of recurrent Herpes, long term treatment with cream containing L-lysiene (an amino acid) seems to prevent the sores from appearing again in the same place. The whole area must be covered in cream daily especially if a new outbreak of sores is starting. Taking L-lysiene supplements is recommended as well as following the ANTI-INFLAMMATORY PROGRAMME. For weepy infected sores, use the medications that are given to you by the doctor. Herbal creams containing calendula can also help. Some people swab with diluted tinctures of calendula and echinachea or use herbal teas. Herbs like plantain (ribwort) , rooibos and comfrey are very soothing. Use the advice in the previous paragraph to treat pain and swelling and try not to wear tight pants and synthetic fabrics.
3 ABNORMAL VAGINAL DISCHARGES:
The shedding of vaginal tissue produces a residue on underwear. It can appear a few times a month, but if no unusual odour or colour is present and it is not profuse, the discharge is normal. Eating certain foods rich in amino acids can cause a different effect, especially: bean sprouts, alfalfa, garlic, chillies and certain curry spices. If you are eating a lot of these foods and stop for a few days, this unusual odour or discharge will disappear and there should be no more cause for alarm. If no itching, swelling, inflammation or redness of the vulva is present then a discharge is not abnormal or a sign of a serious infection.
The following discharges, accompanied by vaginal irritation indicate the presence of an infection:
1 Thick white clots that look like cream cheese: A creamy white discharge is known as leucorrhea. The Candida Albicans fungus is always present in vaginal mucous and if it proliferates, a white curdy type of residue may occur but it usually does not have a bad odour. If large amounts develop it may indicate a Candida infection known as Thrush where yeast like organisms begin to take over. This may happen after a course of antibiotics when friendly bacteria or probiotics have been eradicated. Candida can grow on the sides of the vulva, the vagina and the cervix as well as in other parts of the body like the mouth and digestive tract. Roots of this fungus grow into the upper layers of skin and mucous tissue, causing pain, inflammation and itching.
2 A profuse discharge: enough to require wearing a sanitary towel between periods. You may also be having griping pains, intermittent fevers, nausea and feel weak, depressed and listless.
3 An offensive discharge: with a putrefying smell and a change of colour to yellow or a darker colour. It may become foamy and be streaked with blood and be accompanied by vaginal inflammation, painful intercourse and difficulty in urinating.
These symptoms indicate the need for medical treatment. There may be a uterine infection or the presence of a sexually transmitted disease (STD). A number of tests are available for identification of the organisms that could be a virus, bacteria or protozoa. These infections should be caught in their early stages so that irreversible damage to the reproductive system and the rest of the body does not occur. Patent drugs and antibiotics are used to eradicate most of these conditions but some of the strains have become resistant to treatment. Special diets, herbal remedies and food supplements can also help. Many of these diseases can be prevented and a healthy immune system is the best line of defence along with taking precautions when having sex with a number of casual partners. One should not only rely on condoms as the AIDS virus is 70 times smaller than a sperm cell. STD organisms are also transmitted via blood and saliva in many cases and the herpes virus is extremely contageous.
Early symptoms of common sexually transmitted diseases are:
CHLAMYDIA: a white discharge, pain when urinating, itching and painful intercourse.
GENITAL HERPES: Genital itching and burning, a watery discharge, painful urination and weepy sores in the vulva or vagina that take a few days or weeks to heal. The nerve endings around these ulcers become inflamed and there is a lot of pain. Chronic herpes upsets the nervous system, resulting in anxiety and depression as well as frustration and a feeling of low self worth.
GENITAL WARTS: Single clusters of warts causes by the papilloma virus grow around the vagina, anus and vulva. It is believed that the same virus is responsible for cervical dysplasia whereby abnormal tissue is formed in the cervix. It may be a pre-cancerous condition of the cervix.
A pap smear or sample of cervical tissue should be undertaken to establish a diagnosis.
GONORRHEA: Frequent and painful urination, cloudy vaginal discharge, abnormal uterine bleeding, pelvic inflammation and vaginal itching. Females often show no symptoms and usually transmit this disease to unsuspecting males especially without the protection of a condom.
PELVIC INFLAMMATORY DISEASE(PID): A purulent vaginal discharge with fever and lower abdominal pain.
SYPHILLIS: Sores in the vulva or vagina, a rash, patches of flaking tissue, a fever, sore throat and sores in the mouth or anus. It is contracted through physical contact such as kissing.
TRICHONOMIASIS: Vaginal itching and pain, with a watery foamy greenish or yellow odourless discharge.
BREAKTHROUGH BLEEDING AND SPOTTING
Should you be alarmed by a discharge of blood between periods?
The release of blood from the uterus into the vagina at an unexpected time is known as spotting or breakthrough bleeding. It is reported that most women immediately think they have cancer but fortunately they can be put at ease. Unless the discharge of blood is accompanied by symptoms such as pain, debility, cramps, inflammation and it also contains cervical tissue, mucous or offensive smelling debris, there is no cause for alarm.
CAUSES: 1 HORMONAL IMBALANCES. The sudden withdrawal of estrogen and progesterone triggers the blood and nutrients in the endometrium or lining of the womb to be released. This happens at the beginning of every menstrual cycle. This process can be set off at other times by too much or too little estrogen or progesterone as the release of blood in the uterine lining is dependent on hormonal instigators. Estrogen contains a blood clotting factor and this is why a menstrual flow will only start when the estrogen level drops. There are many causes for differing hormonal levels and every time estrogen or progesterone is given as a supplement, breakthrough bleeding may occur if the blending is incorrect. This type of bleeding often occurs when ladies take too much progesterone as it displaces estrogen that contains the clotting factor. Even “natural” progesterone creams are not exempt from causing this alarming condition and the bleeding is an indication that too much progesterone is active. Especially in cases where “natural” is masquerading as a synthesized progesterone supplement .
HOW TO REMEDY THE SITUATION: If the bleeding is heavy and lasts longer than a day, your gynecologist or doctor will have to determine the exact cause of the problem and estrogen (usually PREMARIN: from mares’ urine) is given in high doses every four hours to stop the bleeding. Futhermore, a D & C (womb scraping) and tissue or blood tests may be recommended. Although estrogen is used to clot the blood, the sudden surge of estrogen may cause the patient to gain weight, have swollen breasts and feel bloated because levels of the hormone prolactin may also be raised. This weight is difficult to remove and does not respond well to diet and exercise. An alternative approach may be to try and balance the hormonal levels in a gentler way, using estrogen active substances like: flax seeds, soya and a hormonal balancer such as agnus castus, which helps to lower levels of prolactin, thus helping to ease the resultant gain in weight. Unfortunately most natural techniques take a long time and often we need a “quick fix.”