Vaginal Problems

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Vagina: The vagina is a muscular tube about 3 inches long connecting the uterine cavity with the outside. It receives the cervix, which dips into the upper vagina in such a way that a circular recess is formed, giving rise to areas known as fornices(for'ne-sez). The deepest of these spaces is behind the cervix and is called the posterior fornix (for'niks). This recess in the posterior vagina is separated from the lowest part of the peritoneal cavity by a rather thin layer of tissue, so that abscesses or tumor cells in the peritoneal cavity can sometimes be detected by vaginal examination.

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The lining of the vagina is a folded type of mucous membrane something like that found in the stomach. These folds (rugae) permit enlargement so that childbirth will not tear the lining ( as a rule ) . In addition to being a part of the birth canal, the vagina is the organ which receives the penis during sexual intercourse. At or near the vaginal canal opening to the outside there sometimes may be found a more or less definite fold of membrane called the hymen.

The vagina is self-cleaning. As the secretions or discharge, flow downward, dead cells and other substances are flushed out. The normal vaginal discharge is clear or white. The amount and nature of your vaginal discharge will vary at different stages of your menstrual cycle, but some discharge is almost always present. (if other drainage is present other than clear or white in color, see your doctor)

Vaginal Problems:

Vaginitis: (inflammation of the vagina) - vaginitis is generally not considered a serious medical problem. Vaginal infections are very common and treatable. If you are experiencing; vaginal itching, irritation, abnormal discharge and or pain during intercourse, call your doctor, these are some symptoms of vaginal problems.

Most common:

Candida vaginitis (yeast infection): Studies shows approximately 75% of all women will have a yeast infection at least once in their lifetime. Some will suffer form recurring yeast infections. Vaginal yeast infections may cause pain during urination and or during sexual intercourse. Symptoms of yeast infection - itching, soreness and may have a white, cottage-cheese-like discharge.

Bacterial vaginosis: For reasons unknown there may be a change in the balance of naturally occurring bacteria in the vagina that allows disease causing bacteria to dominate. It occurs commonly during reproductive years. Symptoms - Many women with this infection exhibit no symptoms, but the predominate sign of this condition is a fishy smelling gray discharge.

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Trichomonas vaginitis: (produces a refractory vaginal discharge and puritis) - causes itching and irritation of the vulva with increased vaginal discharge that may be green and frothy.

Vaginismus: involuntary spastic constriction of the lower vaginal muscles, usually from fear of vaginal penetration. If severe, this disorder may prevent intercourse ( a common cause of unconsummated marriages). Vaginismus affects females of all ages and backgrounds. Patients usually experience muscle spasm with constriction and pain on insertion of any object into the vagina, such as a vaginal tampon, speculum or diaphragm. *Note - Vaginismus usually has a psychological origins. It occurs usually after sexual trauma such as rape or incest. Please seek counseling and see your doctor.

Vaginal cancer: usually occurs primarily in women over the age of 50, vaginal cancer is very rare, studies shows approximately 2% of all gynecological cancers. Once cancer appears on the vagina, it may spread to surrounding tissues, including the bladder, rectum, vulva and the pubic bone. Diagnosis is made by your doctor with thorough examination with a colposcope and biopsy of any suspicious-looking areas.

Vulvitis: Inflammation of the vulva. May cause itching, burning and or pain. Pelvic examination and blood test or tests to check for any STD ( sexually transmitted disease )

Symptoms:

Vaginitis: Increased vaginal discharge with an offensive odor, burning, itching and pain

Vaginal Cancer: Abnormal discharge and bleeding, firm lesion on any part of the vagina (possible cancer)

Vaginismus: muscle constriction, spasm and pain on insertion of any object into the vagina

Vulvitis: if your vulva is inflamed and itches

Treatment:

Your doctor will determine the course of treatment. Treatment for most vaginal disorders is aimed at maintaining proper bacterial balance and treating your irritation and discomfort.

Bacterial vaginitis and trichomonas: Your doctor may prescribe a topical cream and or oral medication

Vaginismus: Your doctor may want to refer you to a doctor who specialize in psychology, and or one who specialize in sexual therapy.

Candida vaginitis (yeast infection) topical cream *see yeast infections for more details

IMPORTANT: Do not douche for 24 hours before seeing your doctor, this may wash away secretions that aid in the diagnosis of your condition.

*Call your doctor for any unusual discharge and or bleeding, itching, burning, pain and or lesions.

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