The vagina naturally has a sea of microorganisms in it. This is called the vaginal flora. The vaginal flora contains microbes including bacteria and fungi, which are healthy, and exist in a delicate balance with each other. If something occurs to disturb this balance, it can result in vaginitis.
Vaginitis is an infection of the vagina. The particular type or name of the infection depends on the kind of disturbance that occurs or the microbe causing it, and it could be a:
- Bacterial vaginitis;
- Fungal vaginitis of candidasis;
- Viral vaginitis;
- Trichomoniasis, etc.
Vaginal infections vary. However, the focus of this article is on the infection caused by fungus, namely fungal vaginitis.
Fungal Infection of the Vagina – Vagina Candidasis.
As earlier said, there is a vaginal flora of microorganisms, just as there is a flora in the mouth, throat, gut, skin, etc, and this is not a problem. But, when there is a spike in relative levels of one of the group of microbes making up this flora, it results in infection.
In the fungal type, there is a spike in level of fungi, specifically yeast(a type of fungus). So, this infection is alternatively referred to as vaginal candidasis, vulvovaginal candidasis, candidal vaginitis, or simply fungal or yeast infection.
Symptoms of Candida Vaginitis.
The symptoms that present in a case of vaginal candidasis include:
- Vaginal itching or soreness;
- Pain or discomfort during urination;
- Painful sexual intercourse;
- Vaginal rashes;
- Abnormal discharge from the vagina;
- Unpleasant odour.
These symptoms are usually mild and, therefore, resolve within a few days to a few weeks. In fact, 20% of women have candida in the vagina with no symptoms presented. However, if left untended and not managed properly, the symptoms become severe with redness, swelling and cracks in the vaginal wall. The microbes can also multiply so much that, consequently, they begin to go deeper into the body, causing various complications.
In addition, 75% of women have candida vaginitis at least twice in their lifetime.
Candida Vaginitis from an Ayurvedic Perspective.
This disease is classified as a yoni vyapat, that is to say, a disease affecting the vagina. Yoni is a term used to refer to the sexual organs in Ayurveda, and is associated with the female reproductive system.
It is a resultant of kapha predominance which affects the yoni. This doshic imbalance affecting the vagina then causes symptoms such as:
- Alpavedana(low-grade pain);
- Pichhilata(mucoid secretions);
and these findings correlate with the modern findings as regards this disease.
Furthermore, another factor that can be pointed out is the build up of ama(a waste product that is produced due to incomplete digestion, ajeerna), resulting in discharge, which is accounted for by the pichhilata.
When the agni(digestive fire) is weak(mandagni), there is in turn incomplete digestion(ajeerna). The ama is then absorbed into the bloodstream(amarasa). The vagina, being a potential kapha zone due to the viscous fluids secreted there, gets a deposition of the ama, alongside the intestine, oral cavity, skin folds(like armpit), etc.
What Causes Candida Vaginitis?
Simply said, the disease is caused by a fungal infection, precisely the yeast. However, some factors can increase the risk for this disease, or aid the fungi along in the process of infection.
- The use of hormonal contraceptives.
- Diabetes, due to high sugar levels in the blood. High sugar levels suppresses the immune system.
- Decreased immunity due to diseases such as HIV.
- Increased estrogen levels, such as seen in pregnant women or those taking birth control pills high in estrogen, or undergoing estrogen hormone therapy.
- Use of antibiotics-antibiotics attack healthy bacteria, killing them off. This gives the fungi a chance to proliferate beyond measure, leading to fungal infection.
- Adyashana, that is, eating excess food.
- Varuddhahara, meaning, eating incompatible foods combinations.
Conventional means to Eradicating the Fungal Infection.
In modern medicine, candida vaginitis is cured by using anti-fungal drugs, since it is a fungal infection. The medication may be taken orally or applied inside the vagina.
- Oral Medication: fluconazole.
- Medication to be applied inside the vagina: boric acid, mystatin, flucytosine.
Another option available is to take hormones in order to balance hormonal levels, should in case the infection has been triggered by an hormonal imbalance.
Ayurvedic Remedies for these vaginal infections due to fungi.
Being an ancient system of medicine, there are certainly remedies prescribed by the ancient and documented as being effective, and some of them have been listed here for you to give a try.
- Build up immunity(oja) through healthy and balanced diet and breathing exercises. The improved immunity goes further to help combat the infection.
- Restore agni, the digestive fire. By so doing, you enhance digestion and prevent the formation, accumulation and distribution of ama. This can be done with the use of spices like ginger, black pepper, asafetida, coriander leaf, mustard seed, etc. Herbs like churna, trikatu, vidanga, chitraka, avipaitikar also help build up the digestive fire.
- Undertake detoxification therapies like virechana to remove the harmful secretions of the candida. Trivicchurna is a useful preparation for this.
A quick home remedy you should try.
Mix 1 part of neem, half part of turmeric, 1 part triphala, all powdered. Use as a dusting powder after bath. You could also take half or a full teaspoon of the powdered mixture with honey or water once or twice a day.
How to prevent further bouts of Vaginal Infection.
You can use simple lifestyle and dietary tips available in abundance to prevent candida vaginitis and to keep it in check.
Lifestyle practices against candida vagintis.
To stay healthy:
- Wear cotton underwear. Cotton encourages aeration/ventilation of the vagina. Cotton also absorbs moisture easily. On the other hand, nylon underwear choke the vagina, preventing the flow of air. This kind of situation encourages the proliferation of microbes.
- Do not douche. The practice of douching removes healthy microbes and causes an imbalance to the vaginal flora. Consequently, there is a proliferation of one type of microbe more than the others, and this causes infections.
- Avoid tight clothes. They create a similar consequence as nylon underwear. The heat and lack of air that results from wearing tight clothes create an ideal environment for breeding of microbes.
- Be wary of hot tubs.
- Do not wear wet clothes like swimsuits, exercise gear, underwear, and so on, for extended periods. If you do, however, you thus encourage the proliferation of microbes.
- Don’t suppress natural urges, that is, urination and defecation.
- Avoid the use of strong soaps, rather use mild soaps.
- Public swimming pools can be a brewery for infectious microbes, and should not be overindulged in.
- If you sweat a lot, then you could consider changing underwear twice a day. This helps reduce the risk of infection.
What to eat for a healthy vagina.
Dietary habits for curing and/or keeping off vaginal infections include:
- Embrace freshly prepared meals that are easily digestible.
- Rasonam(garlic), yava, pippali, and seedhu should be your favorite spices. Spices help build up the digestive fire.
- Take more of meat soups, milk, fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Avoid cold food as they weaken the agni.