The best kind of a vagina is a happy vagina. That said, vaginas are very sensitive. And when something goes wrong, it’s hard to not feel self-conscious, or dirty, or just really unnerved. More than likely, if your vagina is a bit off, it’s due to an infection of some sort.
So we won’t beat around the bush and sugarcoat it — here are the five most common vaginal afflictions.
1. Yeast Infections
Causes: When new yeast is introduced into the vaginal area (like, say, whipped cream/chocolate during sex) or there is an imbalance of bad bacteria to good bacteria (after antibiotic usage).
Symptoms: Thick, white discharge that is similar in consistency to cottage cheese, itching, burning, vaginal soreness, pain during intercourse
Treatment: Antifungal medication, taken orally or via vaginal tablets or suppositories. There are prescription and over the counter options (like Monistat and Mycelex)
Prevention: Yeast overgrows when there’s a buildup of moisture, so wear breathable cotton undies. Avoid douches and scented pads/tampons (seriously, a vagina is a vagina. It’s not supposed to smell like roses.) Eating plain yogurt with active cultures has also been linked to avoiding yeast infections.
Causes: When bacteria that normally lives around the anal area moves up to your urethra (the hole where you pee), this leads to an infection of the urinary tract. This happens from poor hygiene (wipe front to back!) and vaginal intercourse (protected or unprotected), though it’s not considered an STD.
Symptoms: It hurts to pee, you pee far more frequently than usual and only a little comes out a time, your pee is cloudy or pink (indicative of blood). If the UTI travels up your kidney, you’ll feel an intense pain close to waist on one side, possible back pain, nausea, and chills.
Treatment: You really should go see a doctor for antibiotics as soon as the symptoms appear, but if you catch a UTI at its earliest of stages, you can flush it out by drinking a ton of water and unsweetened cranberry juice
Prevention: Drink tons of water, pee after sex, avoid scented pads/tampons, and always wipe front to back.
3. Bacterial Vaginosis
Causes: An imbalance of bacteria in the vaginal region. It’s considered an STD by the Center for Disease Control, but they acknowledge that anyone can get it.
Symptoms: A fishy odor, white or gray discharge, burning while peeing, and itching around the vagina. But sometimes there are no symptoms at all.
Treatment: Prescription antibiotics. Sometimes the symptoms may go away, but it is suggested that you take medication to avoid any complications.
Prevention:Condoms, limiting sex partners, proper hygiene.
Vaginal issues are not unusual. If you notice something strange going on, get it checked out immediately. Millions of women have these issues, so any health care professional will know how to take care of you. The most important thing is catching these issues before they become more complicated. Leaving anything untreated will increase your chance for more and easier infections to make their way into your body. Take control of your health situation and go get checked out at least once a year, even if you don’t have any symptoms. There is nothing embarrassing about taking care of your body and your health.