What Every Woman Should Know

May 09 00:00 2001 Print This Article

Women do not often talk about it, but it is the most common reason they see their health care providers. Vaginal infections account for more than ten million office visits each year.

If you've ever experienced the embarrassing odor or annoying itching, you know what a nuisance vaginal infections can be. But did you also know that some vaginal infections can lead to more serious health complications?

For example, bacterial vaginosis (BV), the most common vaginal infection, has been associated with pelvic inflammatory disease-a cause of infertility-pregnancy complications, cervicitis and post-operative infection.

So, what can you do to reduce your risk of BV and other vaginal infections?

  • DO Know What's Normal. Knowing what is normal for you helps you recognize changes that may signal possible infection.

  • DO Practice Good Hygiene. Keep the vaginal area clean and dry. Wash every day with mild soap; rinse and dry well.

  • DO Know the Signs of Infection. Any itching, unusual odor or change in vaginal discharge are signs of possible vaginal infection.

  • DO Discuss Symptoms Openly with a Health Professional. Most health professionals will check for vaginal infections only if they know you've experienced symptoms.

  • DO Follow Your Doctor's Orders. Be sure to take all medication exactly as prescribed.

  • DON'T Self-Diagnose. An accurate diagnosis can only be given by a health care professional who must evaluate a discharge sample under a microscope.

  • DON'T Self-Medicate. Over-the-counter yeast medications are ineffective against some potentially serious vaginal infections such as bacterial vaginosis, which must be treated with prescription medication. The most commonly prescribed treatment for BV is metronidazole, which is available in a topical gel or orally.

  • DON'T Douche. Douching can encourage infection by throwing the self-protective ecosystem of the vagina off balance.

  • DON'T Be Embarrassed. Vaginal infections are common to women of all ages, regardless of whether they are sexually active or not.

Source: NAPSI

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