Most women would have experienced at some point in time or the other in their lives, a wet and itchy discomfort down there, along with the presence of a burning sensation, that may be accompanied with an abnormal odor.
The root cause behind all these symptoms could be an infection of the vagina called vaginitis. The healthy human vagina harbors a colony of friendly bacteria which produce lactic acid and keep the vaginal pH between 3.5- 4.5 (which is mildly acidic, neutral being 7). At this pH, the opportunistic bacteria and yeast are unable to thrive. But if this friendly flora is disturbed, there is a change in the pH (usually towards the higher side) that encourages the opportunistic bacteria and fungi to grow and cause symptoms of vaginal infection that causes discharge of vaginal fluids.
However, this discharge could also be physiological, a natural way for the body to clear the vagina, and not be infected at all. In this case, the discharge is clear, does not have an odor and additionally, does not cause itching or burning. One should always be on a lookout for these symptoms because this would immediately signal a vaginal infection.
Common causes of vaginal infections include infectious and noninfectious causes like:
- Bacterial or fungal infection due to change in vaginal flora
- Sexually transmitted diseases like trichomonas, chlamydia, gonorrhea as well as other viral infections etc.
- Allergic reaction to the usage of strong scented soaps, detergents, or vaginal sprays etc. in the vaginal region
- Usage of birth control pills that have high quantities of estrogen
- Usage of tampons or intrauterine birth control devices
- Lack of hygiene
- Tight clothing /undergarments
- Excessive sex/ multiple partners – ultimately leading to infections
- Undergarments made of synthetic cloth
- Antibiotic use and usage of immunosuppressants
- Unprotected sex
- Uncontrolled diabetes
The doshas that are more prone to vaginal infections are Pitta and Kapha. Therefore, people who are dominated by either or both of these Prakritis are susceptible to this disorder if their doshas go out of balance.
As per Ayurveda, the elements which work towards creating aggravating these doshas and creating an environment for infection to fester are:
1. Intake of incompatible food
2. Intake of alcohol
3. Taking meals without the previous meal being digested completely- something that causes indigestion
4. Indigestion due to any other reason
5. Repeated abortions
6. Riding on a horseback or on vehicles like bicycles, two-wheelers etc. that have a saddle. This causes abrasion of the tender, external genitalia skin, thereby causing infections.
8. Grief, stress ( which affects the food intake and thus lowers immunity)
9. Emaciating diseases which lead to lower immunity
10. Injury to vaginal mucosa after excessive sex and sex without proper lubrication
11. Sleeping during the day
12. Sedentary lifestyle
13. Lack of personal hygiene
- Keep yourself clean and dry.
- Avoid vaginal sprays or heavily perfumed soaps for this area.
- Avoid douching as it may cause irritation, and more importantly, could hide or spread an infection. It also removes the healthy bacteria that are the housekeepers of your vagina, keeping it fit.
- Avoid clothes that keep in heat and moisture. Nylon underwear, tight jeans, non-breathable gym shorts and leggings, and pantyhose without a cotton panel can lead to yeast infections.
- Eating yogurt with active cultures (check the label) might help you get fewer infections.
- Avoid unprotected sex. Using a condom is highly recommended to prevent passing of infections between the partners.
- See a doctor if you have a discharge that has changed color, odor or is causing itching and burning pain.
- Excessive indulgence in sex should be avoided.
Diet and lifestyle:
In general, one should take a diet that is wholesome diet and includes whole grains, proteins in form of white meats (no seafood), legumes and beans, green leafy vegetables. However, few specific food items are to be included and some avoided as under: In general, one should take a diet that is wholesome diet and includes whole grains, proteins in form of white meats (no seafood), legumes and beans, green leafy vegetables. However, few specific food items are to be included and some avoided as under.
Include: Milk, dates, spinach, ash gourd, Indian gooseberry, green gram, red rice, cow’s ghee
Avoid: Alcohol, spicy food, dry food without the use of ghee or oil.
Include: light exercise, personal hygiene, avoidance of sex till recovery and adequate rest
Avoid: Excessive exercise, daytime sleeping, riding on two-wheelers, bicycle, horses etc., staying up late
Herbs and home remedies:
- 1 tsp of rohitak powder may be taken with water.
- 1 tsp of amla fruit powder may be taken with honey and sugar.
- Intake of Nagkesar with buttermilk followed by cooked rice is quite helpful in this condition
Any of these herbs should be taken under supervision of an Ayurvedic practitioner.
DISCLAIMER: Nothing in this document may be viewed as the diagnosis or treatment of any medical disease whatsoever. The contents of this document are the opinions of the author based on his learning and experience. This document is meant only for educational purposes. The Ayurveda Experience is not liable or responsible for the suggestions made herein.
Please consult your primary care physician before implementing any change in your diet or lifestyle.