Vaginal disorders can affect women of all ages, they are often related to the presence of inflammation and vulvar-vaginitis, but in some cases there can also be infections that require antibiotic therapy.
Irritations affect the outside of the vagina, while infections develop inside the organ and can be fungal, infectious and bacterial in origin.
Infections can be caused by fungi (such as candida albicans), bacteria (gardnerella, gonococcus, staphylococcus, streptococcus), intracellular parasites (chlamydia), viruses (genital herpes) and protozoa (trichomonas).
Thanks to the contribution of Dr. Irene Zerbetto, specialist in Gynecology and Reproductive Medicine at Humanitas, we understand better what are the causes of the most common intimate problems and what precautions to take to avoid their onset.
Causes of infection
One of the most common causes is constipation: “The vagina and rectum are communicating and in the presence of stagnation of feces there is a change in the pH of the vagina that weakens the defenses, thus allowing bacteria from the intestine to colonize the vagina,” says Dr. Zerbetto.
Other causes of infection include unprotected and promiscuous sexual intercourse, inappropriate intimate hygiene, taking medications such as antibiotics and immunosuppressants that alter the vaginal flora and lower the body’s natural defenses, sharing towels, frequenting public baths and swimming pools and hormonal changes that make the vagina more susceptible to infection.
In summer, some factors can increase the risk, such as sweat, contact with sand and sea water or the excessive use of tight clothing, often synthetic materials.
How are infections treated?
“Often infections occur with leucorrhoea or whitish vaginal secretions, sometimes malodorous, itching, burning and pain, but they can also be asymptomatic, as in the case of chlamydia.
In case of infections, confirmed by a vaginal swab, the pathogen must be eradicated with antifungal drugs or antibiotics, these therapies prevent the problem from reoccurring. Recurrences are common especially if you only intervene on external symptoms, such as redness or itching.
There are also natural remedies that can be added to the treatments: almond oil, which has anti-itch and soothing properties; oat-based creams, with anti-itch and anti-chilling properties; borage oil, which calms the itching. It is also essential that the vagina is always lubricated and hydrated, because atrophy and dryness promote the proliferation of pathogens,” the specialist recommends.
Advice on prevention
To prevent irritation and infection, it is advisable to prefer cotton linen, moderate the use of party-liners because the warm-damp climate favors the stagnation of vaginal secretions and the proliferation of pathogens, ensure a varied and balanced diet, which prefers vegetables and fruit and limits the consumption of complex carbohydrates.
It is also good to have proper intimate hygiene, perhaps asking the gynecologist for advice on the most appropriate products, washing from the vagina to the anus to prevent the passage of bacteria from the anal area to the vaginal area.
Those who go to the pool (but also after a swim in the sea) should rinse the intimate area with fresh water, to remove residues of chlorine (or salt and sand). In the pool it is preferable not to sit on the edges of the pool.