Most women are, understandably, a little uncomfortable taking about their vaginal health. Besides the usual reproductive or menstrual concerns, it’s an area of the body that we don’t often think about unless something goes wrong. Then, when the discomfort is intense, it’s all that we can think about.
Maintaining your vaginal health is an important part of living an overall healthy lifestyle. We've put together a few of the basics to help you understand a bit more about the products we offer you.
It’s really important to know not only the basic anatomical names (vagina and vulva), but also how they look and function. This way, when something seems a little off, you’re able to speak with your doctor with language that accurately reflects your issue. So, go ahead, take a look. There’s really nothing to be embarrassed about! It’s your body and knowing it intimately will help keep you healthy and make you feel empowered.
Normal vaginal bacteria produce factors that keep the vaginal environment slightly acidic. The acidic environment helps suppress the overgrowth of abnormal bacteria. When abnormal bacteria overgrow or parasitic infections like trichomoniasis become established, it results in abnormal vaginal activity—yeast infections usually do not result in a change in the vaginal acidity.
The MONISTAT COMPETE CARE™ Vaginal Health Test can help determine if seeing a doctor is necessary by testing if a vaginal pH is abnormal, which may indicate that you have a vaginal infection. On the other hand, a pH that is normal along with symptoms like vaginal itching, burning and thick lumpy discharge could indicate a yeast infection.
Vaginal discharge is a normal part of the body’s cleansing system. While levels and consistency differ from woman to woman, most discharge contains, secretions from glands in the vulva, cervix and vagina, bacteria and a little saline. It is usually clear or slightly cloudy and can range from white to yellowish. It shouldn’t irritate your vulva or vagina and is free of unpleasant odor.
When discharge has a foul odor or irritates the skin, there is cause for concern. It is important to see your healthcare provider as soon as possible for a diagnosis. However, if you have experienced a yeast infection in the past, and are certain that your symptoms are the same, you can begin treatment with your choice of MONISTAT® yeast infection treatment products.
|COMMON SYMPTOMS||BACTERIAL VAGINITIS||YEAST INFECTION||TRICHOMONIASIS|
|Odor||Fishy or unpleasant||None||Musty or unpleasant|
|Discharge||Thin, milky white or gray||Thick, white, cottage cheese like||Frothy, yellow-green|
|Common Treatments||RX Antibiotics||MONISTAT®||RX Antibiotics|
Care and Maintenance
Seeing a healthcare professional regularly is important to maintaining your vaginal health, but there are a few other habits that will help you maintain your vaginal health:
- Avoid douching
- Avoid using feminine deodorant sprays, scented pads or tampons, colored or perfumed toilet paper or bubble bath
- Always wipe from front to back
- Wear cotton underwear during the day to let your skin breathe
- Avoid wearing tight pants, pantyhose, swimsuits, biking shorts or leotards for long periods.
- Change out of wet clothing as soon as possible
- Use a mild laundry detergent
The body, including the vagina and urinary tract, contains complex, finely-balanced ecosystems where beneficial bacteria keep disease-causing organisms in check. When these systems are thrown out of balance, the result can be conditions like urinary tract infections, yeast infections or bacterial vaginosis. Probiotics introduce friendly bacteria into the body. MONISTAT COMPLETE CARE™ Probiotics plus Antioxidants contain a proprietary combination of two probiotic strains, Lactobacillus reuteri, RC-14®* and Lactocbacillus rhamnosus, GR-1®**, which have been clinically shown to help maintain vaginal AND urinary tract health.
*Note: RC-14® and GR-1® are trademarks of Chr. Hansen.
Myths and Misconceptions
The Internet is filled with misinformation about yeast infections and other feminine issues. Here are some myths and misconceptions about how to treat a yeast infection:Learn The Truth About Yeast Infections
In some circles, garlic is revered for its detoxifying qualities. For those that subscribe to garlic’s medicinal use, they believe it can be used to treat yeast infections by inserting it into the vagina. In reality, inserting any foreign object in the vagina may cause further complications or even worsen an infection. There is no scientific proof that garlic can cure a yeast infection, so don’t put yourself at risk.
External Vaginal Itch Creams
A common misconception is that vaginal itch creams can treat yeast infections. Many women who use these products intending to treat a yeast infection soon discover the product’s shortcomings. While they may temporarily relieve the symptoms of your infection, they will not cure it.
Douching is not approved by the medical community and is not a recommended practice. Though many women believe it helps to clean out or freshen the vagina, the process of douching can do more harm than good. If you have a vaginal infection, douching can worsen your condition and lead to other infections. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that women avoid douching completely.
Now, let’s clear up some misconceptions about what causes yeast infections.
Vaginal yeast infections are not usually spread by having sex. However, if you have a yeast infection, you should avoid sexual activity until the infection is gone. Sexual intercourse can be painful and increase vaginal burning and inflammation.
Damp or tight-fitting clothing can create an ideal environment for yeast to overgrow. You won’t get a yeast infection just because you went swimming and it’s not contagious, so you won’t catch it from being in the pool with someone who does. Just make sure you change into clean, dry underwear and clothing when you’re through swimming, working out or doing any strenuous activity.
Using a Laptop
The heat generated from some laptops can cause you to perspire while it rests on your lap and damp areas are ideal environments for the overgrowth of yeast. But regularly using a laptop shouldn’t put you at increased risk for developing a yeast infection – just be sure to keep your vaginal area dry.
What actually causes yeast infections?
A yeast infection (candidiasis) is caused by an overgrowth of yeast that normally lives in the vagina. Here are a few reasons why you may get a yeast infection.
Antibiotics — Antibiotics and other drugs can trigger a yeast infection by suppressing some of the "good" bacteria that helps keep the yeast fungus under control. Learn more here, and do not stop taking antibiotics without first asking your doctor.
Hormones — Pregnancy, menstruation and estrogen fluctuations can trigger a yeast infection. If you're pregnant or think you're pregnant, make sure to speak with your doctor before using any products to treat your symptoms.
Diabetes — If your diabetes is not well controlled, you have a greater chance of getting yeast infections. Find out how high blood sugar can lead to a Candida infection.
A Weakened immune system - Yeast naturally exists in the vagina and a healthy immune system works to keep this yeast balanced. If you have a weakened immune system, you may be susceptible to yeast infections along with other infections.
Certain Cancer Treatments - Yeast infections can be a common side effect of some cancer treatments.
Here are some simple things that have been associated with helping prevent yeast infections:
- Avoid scented hygiene products like bubble bath, sprays, pads, and tampons
- Change tampons and pads often during your period
- Avoid tight underwear or clothes made of synthetic fibers
- Wear cotton underwear and pantyhose with a cotton crotch
- Change out of wet swimsuits and exercise clothes as soon as you can
If this is your first yeast infection or you have special circumstances like diabetes, pregnancy, or recurrent infections, it's important for you to talk to your doctor before you decide on a treatment. That way, he or she can give you a proper diagnosis and help you choose the most appropriate treatment. If you're not sure what to ask, we've provided you with some helpful talking points in the Women Like Me section of this site.