How many women get vaginitis annually?
Roughly 10 million gynecologist visits per year are dedicated to the diagnosis and treatment of vaginitis, which is inflammation of a woman’s lower genital tract. Vaginitis is a broad condition that can be caused by infection, allergy, disease, irritation, or trauma to the vulva or vagina. While common, this condition is uncomfortable and frustrating for many women who experience recurrent infections.
Many cases of vaginitis can be treated with over-the-counter medication, while some cases must be treated through prescription, depending on their underlying cause. However, there are several home remedies you can try before heading to the neighborhood pharmacy or your doctor’s office.
You should visit your doctor right away if you are experiencing severe symptoms, recurring symptoms, pain, or bleeding.
What is vaginitis?
Vaginitis is a common condition that affects the vulva or vagina and is defined by a wide range of symptoms. Symptoms of vaginitis include:
Vaginitis is often diagnosed through a physical exam, discussion of symptoms, and basic lab tests. Most often, your doctor will prescribe an appropriate antibiotic or topical treatment.
Depending on the symptoms and cause of vaginitis, there are remedies you can try at home to manage your symptoms.
Home remedies for vaginitis
Yogurt may be an effective home remedy for multiple variations of vaginitis. Studies show that, when ingested, yogurt that contained proper cultures helped repopulate the vagina with healthy bacteria. Yogurt can help resolve vaginitis and prevent its recurrence.
Other research shows that, when mixed with honey, yogurt can provide soothing relief as a topical home remedy for yeast infections. For some women, this calming remedy proved to be more effective for soothing symptoms than over-the-counter treatment.
For some forms of vaginitis, sugar-free yogurt has been proven an effective remedy when ingested or used topically on the vagina.
Boric acid has been used for over one hundred years as an inexpensive and accessible treatment for vaginal infections. It has been shown to help resolve vaginitis and reduce symptoms over time when applied within the vagina.
However, boric acid can cause burning and must be used with caution.
If you’re experiencing vaginitis, changing your diet can help reduce symptoms and support the recovery process. Dietary changes to make include:
- Avoiding sugar and sweet desserts
- Abstaining from yeasty foods like bread
- Not eating cheese
- Avoiding fruit
- Not drinking alcohol
- Incorporating more vegetables
- Eating more rice and wheat
- Adding a half-cup of unsweetened yogurt daily
When making changes to your diet, always consult a medical professional and monitor any changes in your symptoms.
Over-the-counter suppositories and creams have been shown to cure around 80% of yeast infections. Research shows no difference in the seven-day versus fourteen-day courses of treatment available at most drug stores. Non-prescription medication for yeast infections remains a viable choice for women to treat their vaginitis at home.
Risks and outlook
Despite advancements in treatment for vaginitis, dealing with this condition can be frustrating for many women. Some experience vaginitis as a chronic condition, even after multiple treatments or antibiotics.
While some home remedies have proven effective in soothing and treating vaginitis, it is important to never douche. This practice of cleaning the vagina with soaps or other mechanisms depletes the vagina of healthy, natural bacteria and disrupts your body’s balance. This can aggravate symptoms of vaginitis and increase the risk of recurring or severe infection.
If you are experiencing persistent or recurring symptoms, it is important to seek medical care immediately. Remember to always consult with your physician before trying any home remedies or over-the-counter treatments.
American Family Physician: "Vaginitis: Diagnosis and Treatment."
Annals of Internal Medicine: "Ingestion of yogurt containing Lactobacillus acidophilus as prophylaxis for candidal vaginitis."
Global Journal of Health Science: "The Comparison of Vaginal Cream of Mixing Yogurt, Honey and Clotrimazole on Symptoms of Vaginal Candidiasis."
Infectious Diseases in Obstetrics and Gynecology: "Vaginitis: Making Sense of Over-the-Counter Treatment Options."
Journal of the National Medical Association: "Yogurt: still a favorite for vaginal candidiasis?"
Obstetrical & Gynecological Survey: "Common complementary and alternative therapies for yeast vaginitis and bacterial vaginosis: a systematic review."
Obstetrics & Gynecology: "Management of Persistent Vaginitis."
PLoS One: "Women's Management of Recurrent Bacterial Vaginosis and Experiences of Clinical Care: A Qualitative Study."
Sidahora: "[Natural remedies for vaginal infections]."
Trials: "BASIC study: is intravaginal boric acid non-inferior to metronidazole in symptomatic bacterial vaginosis? Study protocol for a randomized controlled trial."
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