Do You Really Know Anything About Your Vagina
But first of all, I need to ask you a question. Do you really know anything about your vagina at all? Do you know how it behaves, do you know what kind of environment it has and probably most of you will go, “Hmm, not really.” So I thought that I would just talk a little bit about the vagina itself first because once you understand it then you will have a much clearer idea of the sorts of things that can go wrong and also how you can put them right just with some little bit of self help.
What Is Candida Overgrowth
Candida overgrowth, candida infection, or candidiasis is caused by an overgrowth of fungal yeast called candida albicans. These fungi are found in your body, and they occupy a lot of your organs. They are in your gut, skin, mouth, armpits, feet, lungs, bladder and genitals.
Just consider your body as a large estate, and candida albicans are your tenants. Candida taking permanent residence in your body isnt a bad thing. Theyre not villains as theyre portrayed!
Candida albicans are naturally good and this is why theyre called beneficial pathogens. When they dont overgrow and their population is controlled, they work together with other friendly bacteria to:
- Help your body identify bad bacteria and prevent them from entering your body
- Boost your digestion
- Absorb vitamins and minerals better for more energy
So, if candida are good guys on and inside your body, when do things become imbalanced?
Theres a good old saying, anything in excess is bad and this goes the same for candida.
Candida becomes destructive when they multiply at rapid rates, and they become overpopulated in your body. They will conquer and dominate by releasing a toxic waste called acetaldehyde.
The Centers for Disease and Control Prevention classified candidiasis in three main forms:
What Can I Expect If Ive Been Diagnosed With Vaginal Atrophy
You dont have to just live with vaginal atrophy. Even if youre in menopause or postmenopausal, that doesnt mean you should have to deal with UTIs, endure itching or burning, or painful sex. Treatment not only helps with symptoms, but it helps restore a healthy pH and bacterial balance back to your vagina.
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Menopause And Yeast Infections
Caused by an overgrowth of Candida albicans, a fungus, yeast infections are the most common of all vaginal infections. Yeast infections are not sexually transmitted and are often caused by Menopause. Of all vaginal infections, yeast infections are one of the main symptoms of menopause, caused by the fluctuating hormones leading to bacteria in the vagina going out of control.
Baths, excess moisture in the vagina, or damp or tight clothes may lead to yeast infections. The signs of yeast infection during menopause, as well as otherwise, are: inflammation, continued itching and irritation, pain during intercourse, frequent urination, and a thick, white discharge from your vagina.
With the drop of estrogen levels during menopause, the walls of your vagina become thinner and weak. During intercourse, the walls become irritated, leaving tiny scars and scratches, enabling bacteria to thrive. Higher levels of estrogen, due to hormone replacement therapy , also increase the chance of yeast infections can cause the vagina to be damp and moist. Due to increased vaginal discharge caused by higher levels of estrogen, is a great breeding ground for yeast and bacteria.
Menopause, Yeast Infections and Treatment
Before resorting to strong medications, you could try the following alternate treatments for yeast infections:
Tea Tree Oil: Seek professional advice before trying this treatment. Tea tree oil suppositories kill yeast infections present in the vagina.
What Is The Menopause
Menopause is the medical term used for the last menstrual period a woman will ever have. However, the term is more often used to describe the years leading up to this time, also called the change of life or just the change. This period is more accurately known as climacteric.
Menopause is a natural process that every woman goes through and every womans experience of the menopause is different.
When does the menopause happen?
The menopause usually happens between the ages of 45 and 55, although it can be earlier or later. The average age in Britain for the menopause to occur is 51 years old. There can sometimes be a family pattern so it may be worth asking your mother, sister or grandmother when it happened to them.
No matter what age you are, having a hysterectomy causes the menopause to happen instantly. If the ovaries are destroyed by chemotherapy or radiotherapy for cancer of the cervix, this can also bring on an immediate menopause. The symptoms of the menopause can be more severe when the menopause takes place prematurely or abruptly.
Cigarette smokers often reach the menopause earlier than non-smokers.
What causes the menopause and why does it happen?
What are the symptoms of the menopause?
After a woman has had her last menstrual period she can no longer bear children naturally.
Are there any long term effects?
How is the menopause diagnosed?
If you are experiencing problems or are unsure of your symptoms you should always discuss these with your GP.
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How Will I Know If I Have Yeast Infection
This is quite tricky because most of the symptoms of candida overgrowth are general, especially in systemic yeast infection.They also resemble the symptoms of other conditions like Irritable Bowel Syndrome , Crohns disease, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia and more!
Some of the most common signs and symptoms of candida overgrowth in menopause include:
What Happens If I Keep Getting Vaginal Infections
There are suppression treatments your doctor can try if your infection keeps coming back, says Dr. Park. For BV, she says after the initial treatment, your doctor may have you use metronidazole gel one or two times a week for a while. For recurrent yeast infections, your doctor may prescribe you a weekly fluconazole pill for several months after your initial treatment. Dr. Lawson says that if you have recurrent yeast infections, you should ask to be tested for a type of yeast called Candida glabrata, which is resistant to the common antifungal treatments doctors use.
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What Is Thrush And Why Am I Getting It During The Menopause
To put it simply, vaginal thrush, also known as vulvovaginal candidiasis or genital thrush, is an inflammation of the vagina and/ or vulva caused by a fungal infection. The vast majority of cases of vaginal thrush are caused by Candida yeast and some people are more predisposed to getting thrush or have risk factors that make them susceptible. If youre taking hormone replacement therapy, commonly known as , could be contributing factor as oestrogen, a key element of HRT can make cells more susceptible to glycogen growth, which can lead to the growth of the candida fungus.
Causes Of The Thrush With Menopause
Thrush develops very often both in women of reproductive age, and in older women. This is due to the fact that there can be many reasons for the development of this pathology. One of these causes is a violation of the digestive system. The microflora of the intestine and the microflora of the vagina have a similar composition in one woman, so if there is a pathology in the form of constipation or functional dyspepsia, then violations of the intestinal microflora develop. This entails and similar violations in the vagina with the subsequent reproduction of fungal flora, which contributes to the development of thrush.
Another reason for the development of thrush may be prolonged therapy with antibiotics. In this pathogenesis of thrush development is that under the influence of antibacterial drugs, not only pathogenic flora perishes, but also beneficial bacteria of the vagina. This happens when the antibiotic is treated for a long time, or if its dose is not adequately selected, or if the antibiotic is not properly selected without the concomitant use of probiotics in people at risk. All this can cause the development of thrush in women, so you need to take this into account.
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How Is A Vaginal Infection Treated Vs Vaginal Atrophy
Yeast infections are treated with antifungals like fluconazole, a pill thats only available by prescription, or creams, ointments, suppositories, and tablets like miconazole and terconazole, which are available over the counter and by prescription, says Dr. Park. Bacterial vaginosis is treated with metronidazole, which can be taken orally or as a vaginal gel clindamycin, a vaginal cream or oral tinidazole, all available by prescription. In contrast, VA is often treated with hormone therapy to replace the diminished estrogen that is leading to symptoms, lubricants and moisturizers to reduce vaginal dryness, and/or dilators to widen the vagina.
What Your Body Goes Through Around Menopause
Menopause happens when the ovaries no longer release an egg each month and the menstrual cycle totally stops.
This event happens after a natural decline in reproductive hormones, usually around 4555 years of age. The exact timing of menopause varies based on personal factors like genetics, previous pregnancies, physical activity, and body weight.
As you experience the changes of menopause, your monthly periods will eventually stop. According to the Stages of Reproductive Aging Workshop , a few years before a person undergoes menopause, the length of the menstrual cycle becomes more irregular, leading to cycles that can be 60 days or longer. This time is known as the menopause transition or premenopause.
Menopause is a one-time event that is marked by a persons final menstrual period. It becomes clear that this menstrual period was the final one only after 12 months without periods. It also signals the end of perimenopause, a term that means the time around menopause. Perimenopause begins at the menopausal transition and ends 12 months after the final menstrual period.
The time after the final menstrual period is called postmenopause.
Menopause occurs in a few different ways. Here are some of the most common:
- Naturally around the age 4558 years
- Because of surgery to remove the uterus
- In response to chemotherapy or radiation therapy
- Due to primary ovarian insufficiency
Some of the physiological changes around menopause can involve the following:
What Factors Can Make You More Likely To Get Thrush
Most women will experience a thrush infection at some point in their lives, but for others, recurrent infections can be problematic. For some ladies, they experience an outbreak almost monthly and around the time of their period is a common time for thrush to strike. Unsurprisingly, this can be uncomfortable and can affect self-confidence and even relationships.
Here I want to run through some common factors which could be making you more susceptible:
- Periods! Yes, unfortunately the hormonal changes that occur each month to give you your period can make you more susceptible to candida overgrowth. Each month a drop in oestrogen gives you your period. But unfortunately, this drop in oestrogen can also affect the internal environment of the vagina giving thrush more of a chance of taking hold. Another reason that thrush may be more likely around the time of your period is the change in pH as a result of the bleed. Blood can make the pH of the vagina slightly more alkaline, especially with the use of tampons, so this is another factor to contend with! We know that pathogens such as candida are often more likely to flourish in more alkaline conditions.
- Menopause During menopause low and fluctuating levels of oestrogen can often make thrush outbreaks more likely
- Pregnancy Yet again, fluctuating hormones during pregnancy can give rise to changing conditions in the vagina which in turn can contribute to thrush.
Diet and lifestyle factors
A Painful Vagina Issue That Affects 75% Of Us Is On The Rise
October 2nd 2018 / Anna Hunter /
Were in the midst of a modern thrush epidemic according to experts and everything from our workout habits to hormones could be playing a part. Heres how to get relief and the thrush treatment myths not to believe
Thrush: like most things pertaining to our vaginas, its not widely discussed and on the whole shrouded in a sense of embarrassment, yet three in four women will get it over the course of our lifetimes, and six per cent of us will experience the kind of recurrent thrush that severely affects quality of life according to recently published research in The Lancet. Its this boomerang variety of thrush in particular thats seeing soaring diagnoses, with The Lancets systematic review estimating that cases will increase from 138 million women annually to 158 million by 2030. As it stands, as with many womens health issues such as heavy periods, thrush hasnt been taken all too seriously up until now, but the reviews authors impress just how debilitating the condition is, and not just for the women suffering either:
The high prevalence, substantial morbidity, and economic losses of recurrent vulvovaginal candidiasis require better solutions and improved quality of care for affected women.
White discharge , which doesn’t usually smell
Itching and irritation around the vagina
Soreness and stinging during sex or when you pee
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What To Expect During Diagnosis
After discussing your symptoms, your provider will perform a pelvic exam.
During the exam, theyll check your vulva for unusual redness, swelling, or other symptoms. Theyll insert a speculum into your vagina so they can inspect inside the vagina and cervix.
Your provider may take a small sample of discharge to send to a lab for testing. The lab technician will likely check the pH level. A high pH level means your discharge is more basic. Its easier for bacteria to grow in a more basic environment. This is a pH level above 4.5.
They may also view the sample under a microscope to look for yeast, bacteria, and other infectious substances. An infection can change the texture, amount, or smell of your discharge.
The results of these tests will help your healthcare provider determine whether treatment is necessary, and if so, which treatment is best.
Fluctuations usually result from changing estrogen levels and dont require treatment.
If your doctor diagnoses DIV, they may recommend topical clindamycin or hydrocortisone to help relieve symptoms.
If your symptoms are the result of a fungal or bacterial infection, your doctor will recommend an over-the-counter or prescription topical to soothe irritation and clear the infection.
Treatment options are also available for symptoms that result from a sexually transmitted infection or other cause unrelated to perimenopause.
What Else Can You Do
There are other things you can do to look after your vagina generally and for those of you sitting there who are just approaching the menopause, you may be in the peri-menopause, the time to work on your vagina is now if you can because the more work you do before your oestrogen levels start to drop too much then the less likely you are to get problems.
Phytoestrogen products & water
So, what are these things? We’re looking at possibly phytoestrogen product if it’s appropriate for you at this particular time, definitely do the vaginal probiotics, maybe take a course once every six months. Remember loads of water. Dehydration will actually affect the vagina as well, so remember to drink plenty of water on a regular basis.
Look at exercises, very important, and the exercises that will strengthen the pelvic girdle are the Kegel exercises. All you need to do is Google “How to do Kegel exercises” and there’ll be load of sites will come up to tell you how to do it.
Pilates can be absolutely fabulous for this particular area and even getting a private lesson can be a good idea because a really experienced practitioner will be able to show you very specific exercises that you can do on a daily basis that can possible save you a whole lot of trauma later on when you’re going through the menopause.
Yoga is another one as well. There’s very specific exercises you can do like the Kegel exercises that can help to keep everything really strong.
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Symptoms Of Vaginal Atrophy
While vaginal atrophy is common, only 20 to 25 percent of symptomatic women seek medical attention from their doctor.
In some women, symptoms occur during perimenopause, or the years leading up to menopause. In other women, symptoms may not appear until years later, if ever.
Symptoms can include:
The cause of atrophic vaginitis is a decline in estrogen. Without estrogen, vaginal tissue thins and dries out. It becomes less elastic, more fragile, and more easily injured.
A decline in estrogen can occur at other times besides menopause, including:
- during breastfeeding
- after removal of ovaries
- after chemotherapy for treatment of cancer
- after pelvic radiation therapy for treatment of cancer
- after hormonal therapy for treatment of breast cancer
Regular sexual activity helps keep vaginal tissues healthy. A healthy sex life also benefits the circulatory system and improves heart health.
What Effect Does Menopause Have On The Skin
On average menopause occurs as women reach early to mid-50 years. Leading into this time changes in hormone production occur, most notably a decline in oestrogen levels .
Oestrogen affects every organ system of the body including the skin. Oestrogen receptors are most abundant around the genital area, face and lower limbs. Therefore these areas are especially vulnerable to reduced amounts of circulating oestrogen and are the reason for certain skin conditions involving these areas to be more common in peri- and post-menopausal women than in women of other age groups.
- Occurs in 7085% of women throughout the peri-menopausal stage
- Reddening of the face, neck and upper chest that lasts 35 minutes and subsides quickly
- May be associated with sweating, palpitations, anxiety and sleep problems
- Thickening of skin on the palms and soles
- Occurs more commonly in obese post-menopausal women
- May be itchy, and painful cracking and splitting may occur
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