Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Knowing the difference between normal discharge and infections

The Healthy Vagina - The vagina serves as a passageway between the outside of the body and the inner reproductive organs. The pH balance of the vagina is acidic, which discourages infections from occurring. This acidic environment is created by normally-occurring bacteria. A healthy vagina produces secretions to cleanse and regulate itself, similar to how saliva cleanses and regulates the environment of the mouth. These vaginal secretions are normal vaginal discharge. Any interference with the delicate balance of vaginal secretions sets up an environment conducive to infection.

Normal Vaginal Discharge - All women have some vaginal discharge. Normal discharge may appear clear, cloudy white, and/or yellowish when dry on clothing. It may also contain white flecks and at times may be thin and stringy. Changes in normal discharge can occur for many reasons, including menstrual cycle, emotional stressors, nutritional status, pregnancy, usage of medications - including birth control pills, and sexual arousal.

Effects of the Menstrual Cycle - The menstrual cycle affects the vaginal environment. You may notice increased wetness and clear discharge around mid-cycle. The pH balance of the vagina fluctuates during the cycle and is the least acidic on the days just prior to and during menstruation. Infections, therefore, are most common at this time.

Signs of Abnormal Discharge - Any changes in color or amount of discharge may be a sign of a vaginal infection. Vaginal infections are very common; most women will experience some form of a vaginal infection in their lifetime. If you experience any of the symptoms below, this may be a sign of vaginal infection:
  • Discharge accompanied by itching, rash or soreness
  • Persistent, increased discharge
  • Burning on skin during urination
  • White, clumpy discharge (somewhat like cottage cheese)
  • Grey/white or yellow/green discharge with a foul odor

Outlined below is basic information on three common vaginal infections

Bacterial Vaginosis - The exact cause of bacterial vaginosis is unknown. Similar to a yeast infection, there is an overgrowth of bacteria, and the delicate balance of the vaginal environment is upset when these bacteria occur in increased amounts. Recurrence of bacterial vaginosis is common and bacterial vaginosis can coexist with other vaginal infections. Women that have multiple partners or receive oral intercourse are at an increased risk of acquiring bacterial vaginosis.

Signs and Symptoms

  • Increased amount of discharge
  • Grey/white, thin, watery discharge
  • Foul/fishy odor with discharge
  • Increased odor to discharge immediately after intercourse
Nearly half of the women with bacterial vaginosis don't display any symptoms.

Trichomoniasis - This infection is caused by a one-celled protozoan organism. Trichomoniasis is almost always spread through sexual contact. However, the protozoan organism can survive for up to twenty-four hours in a moist environment, making wet towels or bathing suits possible instruments of transmission from someone with the infection.

Signs and Symptoms

Most men and some women don't display any symptoms, which may include:
  • Yellow/green, frothy, discharge
  • Foul odor with discharge
  • Increased amount of discharge
  • Inflammation of vulva/vagina
  • Increased frequency of urination
  • Itching

Monilia (Yeast) Infection

There is normally a small amount of yeast (Candida albicans) present in the vagina. A yeast infection occurs when there is an overabundance of yeast, often caused by a change in the pH balance of the vagina. Yeast infections are not usually sexually transmitted.

Some factors that may increase susceptibility to yeast infections

  • Increased stress
  • Use of oral contraceptives
  • Diabetes
  • Pregnancy
  • Use of antibiotics (protective bacteria are destroyed by antibiotics, allowing yeast overgrowth)

Signs and symptoms

  • Increased amount of discharge
  • White, clumpy (cottage cheese-like), discharge
  • Redness, itching, burning in vaginal/vulvar area

Prevention and treatment guidelines for vaginal infections

  • Have new partners wear condoms during sexual intercourse.
  • Stay healthy; eat well, get enough sleep, drink enough fluids.
  • Keep vaginal area clean and dry.
  • Wear cotton underwear.
  • Wipe from front to back after urination or bowel movement.
  • Avoid using deodorant pads or tampons.
  • Don't use petroleum jelly or other oils for lubricants.
  • Don't douche.
  • Use medication as long as directed.
  • Avoid sexual intercourse until treatment is completed and you are symptom free.
  • Don't scratch infected or inflamed areas; it can cause further irritation.
  • If using medication inside the vagina, use it during the menstrual period.
  • During an infection, use pads rather than tampons if menstruation occurs.
  • Avoid vulvo/vaginal irritants, including perfumed or deodorant soaps/body washes.

Tips of the day : Please use FC BIO Sanitary Pads for protection and help to relief the above problems.

The truth about women and heavy menstrual bleeding

Every month, women endure the discomfort menstruation brings. This includes fatigue, nausea and uterine cramps—side effects that are perfectly normal for women menstruating.
However, if a woman menstruates for more than eight days and changes sanitary pads every two hours, she may be experiencing heavy menstrual bleeding or HMB.
During the press conference organized by Bayer HealthCare last June 1, medical experts stressed the need to make women aware of HMB.
“Women feel extreme fatigue, affecting their day-to-day activities but often do not associate this with their menstruation. Most women do nothing,” said Dr. Delfin Tan, head of the Gynecologic Endocrinology and Endoscopy Section of United Doctors Medical Center and of the Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility Section of St. Luke’s Medical Center in Quezon City. 
Dr. Tan cited a case study, wherein a patient considered the heavy flow as normal and something even good, believing it cleanses her of “impure blood.”
He identified two kinds of abnormal uterine bleeding: organic and non-organic. Organic causes are clotting and bleeding disorders, hormone problems, adrenal disorders, and polycystic ovary syndrome (wherein the ovaries overproduce hormones). Non-organic causes, meanwhile, are hormonal imbalance and stress. 
Heavy menstrual bleeding is due to non-organic causes. 
HMB’s prevalence
“In the US, 2.5 million women are affected yearly,” said Dr. Ian Milsom, chairman of the Institute of Clinical Sciences, Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, one of the medical experts who talked about HMB during the press conference.
On the other hand, a study conducted by Nielsen Company in four countries in Asia—Korea, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia—shows that 12 million women have HMB. A study in the Philippines is still in the works, according to the Bayer HealthCare executives.
HMB is prevalent among women aged 35 years old and above. However, some young girls have HMB as early as 13-15 years of age.
Combatting HMB
Dealing with menstruation is hard enough, but HMB is a different matter, a serious condition that upsets the lives of women.
“It affects their work, causes emotional distress and drains their finances,” said Dr. Tan. According to him, 57 percent of women resort to having hysterectomy (surgery to remove the uterus) just to get rid of the hassles and health disadvantages HMB bring. 

Today, there are options for women to counter HMB, such as FC BIO SANITARY PADS from Avail Beauty.

Menstruation and the menstrual cycle

What is menstruation?

Menstruation (men-STRAY-shuhn) is a woman's monthly bleeding. When you menstruate, your body sheds the lining of the uterus (womb). Menstrual blood flows from the uterus through the small opening in the cervix and passes out of the body through the vigina.  Most menstrual periods last from 3 to 5 days.

What is the menstrual cycle?

When periods (menstruations) come regularly, this is called the menstrual cycle. Having regular menstrual cycles is a sign that important parts of your body are working normally. The menstrual cycle provides important body chemicals, called hormones, to keep you healthy. It also prepares your body for pregnancy each month. A cycle is counted from the first day of 1 period to the first day of the next period. The average menstrual cycle is 28 days long. Cycles can range anywhere from 21 to 35 days in adults and from 21 to 45 days in young teens.
The rise and fall of levels of hormones during the month control the menstrual cycle.

What happens during the menstrual cycle?

In the first half of the cycle, levels of estrogen (the “female hormone”) start to rise. Estrogen plays an important role in keeping you healthy, especially by helping you to build strong bones and to help keep them strong as you get older. Estrogen also makes the lining of the uterus (womb) grow and thicken. This lining of the womb is a place that will nourish the embryo if a pregnancy occurs. At the same time the lining of the womb is growing, an egg, or ovum, in one of the ovaries starts to mature. At about day 14 of an average 28-day cycle, the egg leaves the ovary. This is called ovulation.
After the egg has left the ovary, it travels through the fallopian tube to the uterus. Hormone levels rise and help prepare the uterine lining for pregnancy. A woman is most likely to get pregnant during the 3 days before or on the day of ovulation. Keep in mind, women with cycles that are shorter or longer than average may ovulate before or after day 14.
A woman becomes pregnant if the egg is fertilized by a man’s sperm cell and attaches to the uterine wall. If the egg is not fertilized, it will break apart. Then, hormone levels drop, and the thickened lining of the uterus is shed during the menstrual period.
See how the menstrual cycle works below.

What is a typical menstrual period like?

During your period, you shed the thickened uterine lining and extra blood through the vagina. Your period may not be the same every month. It may also be different than other women's periods. Periods can be light, moderate, or heavy in terms of how much blood comes out of the vagina. This is called menstrual flow. The length of the period also varies. Most periods last from 3 to 5 days. But, anywhere from 2 to 7 days is normal.
For the first few years after menstruation begins, longer cycles are common. A woman's cycle tends to shorten and become more regular with age. Most of the time, periods will be in the range of 21 to 35 days apart.

What kinds of problems do women have with their periods?

Women can have a range of problems with their periods, including pain, heavy bleeding, and skipped periods.
  • Amenorrhea (ay-men-uh-REE-uh) — the lack of a menstrual period. This term is used to describe the absence of a period in:
    • Young women who haven't started menstruating by age 15
    • Women and girls who haven't had a period for 90 days, even if they haven't been menstruating for long
    Causes can include:
    • Pregnancy
    • Breastfeeding
    • Extreme weight loss
    • Eating disorders
    • Excessive exercising
    • Stress
    • Serious medical conditions in need of treatment
    As above, when your menstrual cycles come regularly, this means that important parts of your body are working normally. In some cases, not having menstrual periods can mean that your ovaries have stopped producing normal amounts of estrogen. Missing these hormones can have important effects on your overall health. Hormonal problems, such as those caused by polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or serious problems with the reproductive organs, may be involved. It’s important to talk to a doctor if you have this problem.
  • Dysmenorrhea (dis-men-uh-REE-uh) — painful periods, including severe cramps. Menstrual cramps in teens are caused by too much of a chemical called prostaglandin (pros-tuh-GLAN-duhn). Most teens with dysmenorrhea do not have a serious disease, even though the cramps can be severe. In older women, the pain is sometimes caused by a disease or condition such as uterine fibroids or endometriosis
  • Abnormal uterine bleeding — vaginal bleeding that’s different from normal menstrual periods. It includes:
    • Bleeding between periods
    • Bleeding after sex
    • Spotting anytime in the menstrual cycle
    • Bleeding heavier or for more days than normal
    • Bleeding after menopause
    Abnormal bleeding can have many causes. Your doctor may start by checking for problems that are most common in your age group. Some of them are not serious and are easy to treat. Others can be more serious. Treatment for abnormal bleeding depends on the cause.

    In both teens and women nearing menopause, hormonal changes can cause long periods along with irregular cycles. Even if the cause is hormonal changes, you may be able to get treatment. You should keep in mind that these changes can occur with other serious health problems, such as uterine fibroids, polyps, or even cancer. See your doctor if you have any abnormal bleeding.

How long does a woman have periods?

Women usually have periods until menopause. Menopause occurs between the ages of 45 and 55, usually around age 50. Menopause means that a woman is no longer ovulating (producing eggs) or having periods and can no longer get pregnant. Like menstruation, menopause can vary from woman to woman and these changes may occur over several years.
The time when your body begins its move into menopause is called the menopausal transition. This can last anywhere from 2 to 8 years. Some women have early menopause because of surgery or other treatment, illness, or other reasons. If you don’t have a period for 90 days, you should see your doctor. He or she will check for pregnancy, early menopause, or other health problems that can cause periods to stop or become irregular.

When should I see a doctor about my period?

See your doctor about your period if:
  • You have not started menstruating by the age of 15.
  • You have not started menstruating within 3 years after breast growth began, or if breasts haven't started to grow by age 13.
  • Your period suddenly stops for more than 90 days.
  • Your periods become very irregular after having had regular, monthly cycles.
  • Your period occurs more often than every 21 days or less often than every 35 days.
  • You are bleeding for more than 7 days.
  • You are bleeding more heavily than usual or using more than 1 pad or tampon every 1 to 2 hours.
  • You bleed between periods.
  • You have severe pain during your period.
  • You suddenly get a fever and feel sick after using tampons.

How often should I change my pad and/or tampon?

You should change a pad before it becomes soaked with blood. Each woman decides for herself what works best. You should change your sanitary pad at least every 4 to 8 hours. Make sure to use sanitary pad made from cotton to avoid  toxic shock syndrome (TSS). TSS is a rare but sometimes deadly disease. TSS is caused by bacteria that can produce toxins. If your body can’t fight the toxins, your immune (body defense) system reacts and causes the symptoms of TSS.
Young women may be more likely to get TSS. Using any kind of sanitary pads puts you at greater risk for TSS than using cotton pads. 

Can Bacterial Vaginosis Cause Any Complications?

Can Bacterial Vaginosis Cause Any Complications?

In the United States, 29.2 percent of women between the ages of 14 and 49 are estimated to have bacterial vaginosis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
reproductive system infection, bacterial vaginosis results from the balance of lactobacilli (good bacteria) and anaerobes (bad bacteria) being thrown off with too many anaerobes in the vagina.
This infection can spread through sexual intercourse. But even women who have never had sex can still develop bacterial vaginosis.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 18.8 percent of women who have never engaged in anal, oral or vaginal sex have had bacterial vaginosis.
Bacterial vaginosis can cause several symptoms, including abnormal vaginal discharge, which may smell fishy and have a thin grayish-white appearance. Some women may have pain during intercourse or a burning sensation when they urinate.
However, 84 percent of women with bacterial vaginosis do not have any symptoms, according to the CDC.
In most cases, women do not develop complications from bacterial vaginosis. However, women who do not get treated are at risk for other disorders of the reproductive system.
One group at risk for complications from bacterial vaginosis is pregnant women. If a woman is pregnant and she does not receive treatment, she is at risk for a premature birth.
Bacterial vaginosis can also increase the risk for a low birth weight, in which the infant’s birth weight is less than 5.5 pounds.
Sometimes, bacterial vaginosis can affect the woman’s fallopian tubes and uterus, resulting in a condition called pelvic inflammatory disease. Health problems that can occur with pelvic inflammatory diseaseinclude infertility and damage to the fallopian tubes.
If the fallopian tubes sustain enough damage, it puts the woman at risk for an ectopic pregnancy.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health added that women who have bacterial vaginosis have a higher risk of developing pelvic inflammatory disease after a surgery of thereproductive system, such as an abortion or hysterectomy.
Another possible complication from bacterial vaginosis is an increased risk for contracting sexually transmitted diseases.
For example, a woman who has bacterial vaginosis is more susceptible to HIV if she is exposed to the virus, or has a higher chance of passing HIV to her partner if she is already infected, noted the CDC.
The risk of contracting gonorrhea, herpes simplex virus and chlamydia are also increased.
So, it is clearly that prevention is better than cure. Act now by using cotton and medicated (herbs) sanitary napkin.