What's Really Going on 'Down There'?
Posted by Girls Guide To on June 28, 2012 at 1:15 PM
Experiencing some strange symptoms "down there"? From urinary tract infections to yeast, we've got the lowdown on your peskiest nether-region health problems, what to buy from the drugstore and how you can combat nasty vaginal issues at home.
It might be a UTI ... if you have searing pain when you go to the bathroom or feel a constant urge to pee -- and then nothing comes out. You may also feel bloated and suffer from abdominal cramping and pain. Trust us, you will know. Oh, will you know.
Drugstore solutions: Azo Urinary tablets, sold over the counter, help relieve the pain and discomfort of a UTI. Cranberry juice (not cocktail, the actual juice) is also helpful. Studies show that cranberries help prevent bacteria from taking hold in the urinary tract. But they won't cure an existing infection, so if you're having symptoms, you still need to see your gynecologist or go to an urgent care center for a prescription.
- Stay hydrated -- that can help flush infection-causing bacteria out of your bladder and urinary tract, says Maggie Ney, naturopathic doctor and co-director of the Women's Clinic at the Akasha Center for Integrative Medicine in Santa Monica, Calif.
- Always wipe from front to back (if you go the opposite direction, you'll drag bacteria toward your sensitive spots) and blot dry (don't rub).
- Avoid feminine products (sprays, powders, strong soaps and douches) that can irritate your urethra. Instead, keep your private parts clean with mild soap and water, and change your underwear at least once a day (do we really have to remind you to do this?!?).
- Always pee after sex to flush out any bacteria.
It might be yeast if ... you feel itchy, burning pain down below, the area in and around your vagina is red and swollen and/or if you have a cottage cheese-like discharge.
Drugstore solutions: "Conventional treatment with topical anti-yeast vaginal creams, such as Gyne-Lotrimin or Monistat, works by killing the yeast directly," says Ney. And while most of these creams obliterate yeast after three to seven days, they don't address any underlying imbalances, which may be contributing to the yeast overgrowth, she adds.
- Swear off sweets (yeast feeds on sugar).
- Keep your girl parts cool, dry and unrestricted (i.e., go commando). And don't linger in a wet bathing suit all afternoon or sit around in sweaty workout clothes.
- You may even load up on healthy bacteria (a.k.a., probiotics found in yogurt and in supplements) as a preemptive strike against dreadful yeast.
Call Your Doctor
It might be something more serious if ... you notice grey or green discharge, red bumps (herpes can look like genital acne, but it's much more painful), flesh-colored bumps that almost look like skin tags or if you're suffering from severe pelvic or abdominal pain.
Solution: Call your doctor or gynecologist. Odd-colored discharge, bumps and skin ulcers down under are all signs of STDs -- not a simple vaginal annoyance. If you have severe cramping or abdominal pain, you may have ovarian cysts or endometriosis. Both conditions require a thorough evaluation from a specialized gynecologist.
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