Even women in seemingly good health can experience problems that would benefit from vaginal health treatments.
Unfortunately, many women feel the subject is taboo, and are uncomfortable discussing it with friends and even their gynecologist.
There are a variety of conditions, some of which you may already be familiar with such as yeast infections and UTIs, that can affect a woman’s vaginal health and well-being.
Furthermore, some conditions can have an impact on your confidence and self-esteem. You may be embarrassed or not know who to consult. Confusion can be compounded by less than helpful online searches, while others may not be aware that help even exists.
You don’t have to suffer in silence and your symptoms aren’t necessarily a sign of aging. You don’t have to simply “live with” symptoms of conditions ranging from urinary incontinence and painful sex to yeast infections and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
Sometimes the solution is as simple as changing the products you’re using or obtaining a vaccination against specific viral infections.
Few of the Most Common Vaginal Health Concerns:
1. Yeast Infections
Yeast infections are extremely common and can happen any time there’s a disturbance or disruption in the natural balance of secretions within the vagina, creating an environment where an overgrowth of Candida can occur. A yeast infection is not an STD, can occur any time, and can be caused by:
- Certain antibiotics
- Oral contraceptives
- An impaired immune system
- Diabetes that isn’t well controlled
A yeast infection can manifest a wide array of symptoms that include:
- Burning sensation during urination
- Unusual discharge and odor
- Swelling around the vagina
- Pain during sex
There are several types of Candida present in the vagina and sexual activity is not a requisite for developing an infection. Both partners must undergo treatment to prevent the infection from being passed back and forth. Since the balance of secretions within the vagina is a delicate one and can be easily disrupted, yeast infections tend to reoccur periodically.
2. Urinary Incontinence
Next to yeast infections, urinary incontinence is perhaps the most common vaginal health issue you may experience in your lifetime. It’s the source of untold embarrassment. Most women are too mortified to even discuss it with their doctor.
Involuntary urinary leakage isn’t restricted to older women. It can affect you at any age and can be the result of weakened bladder muscles due to childbirth, menopause and aging.
Leakage typically occurs when you:
- Lift an item
- Bend to pick something up
- Stand up from a sitting position
Thanks to advances in technology, ThermiVA® is available to treat urinary incontinence. It’s a highly advanced medical treatment that utilizes radiofrequency heat to stimulate your body’s creation of collagen for stronger tissues. Results last from 9-12 months. The procedure is completely non-surgical and no anesthesia or needles are involved.
3. Pain During Sex
The most common cause of pain during sex is insufficient lubrication brought about by tissues that have become lax, loose and lost collagen. It’s a type of vaginal health concern that can be successfully treated with ThermaVA®. The procedure revitalizes and restores tissues along the entire length of the vaginal canal, while improving the outer appearance of the entire genital region.
In addition to poor lubrication, painful sex can be linked to:
- Change in hormone levels
- An infection
- Fibroids, cysts and tumors
- Thickening of the uterus
- Vaginal trauma
4. Vaginal Dryness
Vaginal dryness often occurs to women of menopausal age and after childbirth. It can also happen as a result of insufficient production of collagen, a protein that’s keeps tissues supple, resilient and flexible.
ThermiVA® is an advanced technology that stimulates tissues at the mouth of the vagina and the entire length of the vaginal canal to create collagen, resulting in better lubrication and increased sensitivity. An added benefit of the treatment is an overall improvement in the appearance of the genital area.
5. Abnormal Bleeding
The definition of abnormal bleeding is any bleeding that takes place between regular menstrual periods or after sex. It can be the result of any number of sources that can include:
- Vigorous sex
- First time sex or long-term abstinence
- Childbirth and pregnancy
- Hormone changes
- Vaginal dryness from insufficient lubrication
- Fibroids, cysts and polyps
- Chlamydia and other STDs
- Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
6. Contact Dermatitis
Genital tissues are highly sensitive and can become irritated by any number of ingredients in everyday items ranging from laundry soaps and bath gels to feminine hygiene products and even certain fabrics. They can cause symptoms that include:
- Swelling of the vulvar region
- A damp or raw feeling
- Thickening of the skin
- Pain upon insertion of tampons
- Sexual intercourse
You’ll need to ascertain the cause of the irritation and remove it from your life. Dr. TaisenChoy-Bent can prescribe an ointment or cream for relieving pain, swelling and itching to make your life much more comfortable.
Chlamydia is an STD that’s contracted and spread through sexual contact. If you have the bacteria you may or may not have any symptoms and it’s possible to have it for an extended length of time without being aware. If you do have symptoms, they may encompass:
- Burning during urination
- Vaginal discharge
- Bleeding after sex
- Painful intercourse
- Lower belly pain, sometimes with a fever
The good news is that chlamydia can be treated with antibiotics. It’s essential that you take the medication exactly as prescribed and that your partner also receives treatment to prevent reinfection.
Herpes is a highly communicable STD, transmitted to sexual partners through vaginal, oral and anal sex. One in every six1 people in the U.S. between the ages of 14 and 49 has contracted herpes. It’s particularly problematic, as the STD may demonstrate mild symptoms that then disappear or an infection may not show any symptoms at all.
The first outbreak episode after infection can occur at any time and symptoms may resemble the flu. Subsequent outbreaks are typically of shorter duration and less severe. While the viral infection can lie dormant for months or years without any outwardly visible symptoms, it’s common to experience ongoing outbreaks.
There’s no cure for herpes, but there are medications that can aid in suppressing and shortening an outbreak. If you have a depressed or impaired immune system, outbreaks can be particularly painful. You should know that the liquid from herpes lesions can transmit the virus to any other part of the body, making it critical that you immediately wash your hands should you come in contact with the fluid.
The most common STD2 in the U.S. is Human papillomavirus (HPV). An estimated 80 percent of the population will contract it, but most won’t know it as the virus usually disappears without treatment. There is a vaccine that can be given at the age of 12 to girls and boys to prevent infection and a vaccine can be administered through the age of 26 if you weren’t vaccinated as a child.
You may have the virus and never develop symptoms. If you’re particularly susceptible to the virus or have a weakened immune system, HPV has the potential to cause genital warts and some cancers. The warts can encompass all shapes, sizes and appearances.
Cancer caused by the virus can take years to manifest and the first symptom may be vaginal bleeding, but don’t jump to conclusions. Women in some age groups are more prone to bleeding than others – for very specific reasons – and it will require the experience of your gynecologist to make a definitive diagnosis.
Trichomoniasis is a common and curable STD, but one of the least diagnosed as only 30 percent3 of women who are infected will ever have symptoms. Caused by a protozoan, it’s highly erratic, randomly appearing with symptoms and then quickly disappearing again. Men and women can be infected, but it’s most common in older women.
Symptoms can include:
- Painful or uncomfortable urination
- Itching, burning, soreness and redness in the vaginal region
- Vaginal discharge with a foul or fishy odor
- A discharge that changes amount or consistency
- Vaginal discharge that changes in color – clear, white, yellowish or greenish
Only a lab test can accurately diagnose trichomoniasis. If you have the STD, it can be treated with oral medications, but you can be re-infected if you have sex with someone who has it.
Your Gynecologist Has The Answers
Dr. TaisenChoy-Bent has the extensive experience and advanced technology required to diagnose and treat any of the top vaginal health concerns that you may experience during your lifetime that will affect your well-being and sexual health.
Too many times, women erroneously believe that they have to live with symptoms or there’s no resolution for their concerns. Additionally, similar symptoms may be indicative of any number of conditions.
Any symptoms that cause you concern or distress should immediately be brought to the attention of your gynecologist. It will put your mind at ease and if you do have a health condition, she can provide expert guidance and treatment.