5 Common Types of Lower Gential Tract Infections and How To Prevent Them

Friday, February 1, 2019 Philippines


As a nurse, I encounter many kinds of infections that can develop in a person's body and that includes genital tract infections. The common reason that this escalates when it can be easily prevented is that most people are shy to have it checked when it is related to reproductive health. They are afraid to be judged or simply because it is too confidential. 

Many of us are guilty that we do not give our reproductive health the proper TLC. It is important to have a regular checkup, proper hygiene, and the right products that will not disturb its natural balance (rather your natural flora). Think about it, if an infection happens down there, it will cause you pain and discomfort and since our lower genital area is closer to our urinary tract, it can cause problems in the future if it spreads to other systems. 

According to Obstetrician-Gynecologist, Bernadettte Ong-Sumo, MD, there are 5 common vulvovaginal infections and there are ways to avoid them. Let me share it with you. 

1. Candidiasis

Also known as vaginal yeast infection - it is recognized to affect 3 out of 4 women at least once in their lifetime. This occurs when a change in the natural microflora of the body affects the number of good bacteria leading to the overgrowth of a type of fungus called Candida which is normally found inside the human gut, throat, mouth, and even vagina. 

Actually, Candida infection is very common to mouth too. The usual symptoms for Candidiasis include vaginal itching or soreness (burning sensation), pain during sexual intercourse or urinating, and changes in normal vaginal discharge described as curd-like or cottage cheese-type. 

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, women who are pregnant, using contraceptives, have diabetes, impaired immune system, or even those who are taking broad-spectrum antibiotics are much more likely to develop Candidiasis. 

To prevent Candidiasis, you can start wearing cotton underwear and non-tight-fitting clothes that might help reduce the chances of getting a yeast infection. Because taking antibiotics can lead to vaginal candidiasis, take these medicines only when prescribed and exactly as your physician tells you. Often times, a vaginal yeast infection will clear up on its own, but over the counter, anti-fungal creams or tablets are available for treatment. “For those who choose self-treatment, please see a Gynecologist if symptoms persisted”, advised by Dr. Ong-Sumo.

2. Vaginosis

Similar to Candidiasis, this is a type of vaginal inflammation caused by an upset vaginal balance, from lactobacilli-dominant to mixed flora. If you’re noticing a thin, frothy, gray-white vaginal discharge and a foul-smelling vaginal odor described as “musty” or “fishy”, make sure to get checked by your Gynecologist. 

Sometimes, women with this infection may experience vaginal itching or burning sensation when urinating. Although it is more common among women in their reproductive years, a couple of factors are known to increase the risk of developing this infection such as smoking, multiple sexual partners, and douching or the practice of washing out the vagina with a mixture of water and vinegar or baking soda. “Frequent douching for hygiene is unnecessary as the vagina does an excellent job of keeping the PH balanced and of cleansing itself,” revealed by Dr. Ong-Sumo.

3. Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)

I myself experienced having UTI and women is at risk of acquiring at least one incidence of UTI during their lifetime is 50%. It is caused by a bacteria entering through the urethra and invading the bladder and kidneys. Since women have shorter urethra than men, bacteria can easily reach the bladder and is at risk on acquiring infection. 

I know the feeling of UTI, it is one of the worst feeling in the world! A burning sensation when urinating, strong-smelling urine that appears cloudy (sometimes red), and a pelvic pain. In my case, I also experienced fever and chills. I developed a UTI because I hold my urine in a prolonged period of time and after that, I experienced pain and I learned from the Doctor that holding urine is a bad practice. 

Sexual activity, menopause and even using of birth control measure like diaphragms can cause UTI. 

To prevent UTI, drinking a ton of water helps to dilute the urine and will flush away bacteria even before the infection begins. Additionally, as a part of keeping down there “dry and happy”, wipe from front to back after urinating or defecating. This way, bacteria from the feces or anus will not spread towards the vagina and urethra. Additionally, emptying the bladder after intercourse is also a must so you don’t introduce more bacteria.

4. Folliculitis

According to Dr. Ong-Sumo, “This is becoming more common nowadays as a lot of women in this day and age are into extensive pubic hair removal, whether waxing or shaving”. Hair removal causes minute skin injuries, with inoculation of pathogens and subsequent spread of infection. Folliculitis happens when bacteria, normally present in the skin or vagina, get inside a cut or opening. It exhibits itself as groups of red bumps with white heads and pus or oozing blisters. “These women just need to be informed of the risks and of the safe methods and best practices for hair removal”, added by Dr. Ong-Sumo. 

If shaving cannot at all be prevented, do so every other day with warm water, a shaving cream, and new razors, while making sure to apply moisturizing lotion afterward. Wearing breathable clothes, using clean towels, and avoiding sharing personal items are other precautionary steps we can take to prevent this infection from invading our personal space. It’s best to wash the infected area with warm water and antibacterial soap. Dry thoroughly with a fresh towel and apply antibiotic creams or gels. Women who fail to respond to topical antibiotics should consult with a physician.

5. Bartholin's Gland Abscess

A Bartholin’s abscess is caused by a fluid buildup in the Bartholin gland (responsible for secreting fluids to lubricate the vestibule and vagina) due to an obstruction caused by infection or injury. The pus often shows polymicrobial infection and contain a wide range of bacteria homogeneous to the normal flora of the vagina. Symptoms include acute vulvar pain, pain during intercourse, difficulty in walking or sitting and sometimes, fever. Safer sex practices and good hygiene habits may help to prevent infection of a cyst and the formation of an abscess. 

The good news is that these five-common infection-related reproductive diseases are completely avoidable and treatable. Because these diseases should be taken seriously, Dr. Ong-Sumo’s final recommendation is to consistently practice good personal hygiene from wearing a cotton underwear for better absorption of moisture and perspiration, keeping yourself dry and clean, avoiding scented feminine wash, pads or tampons, to tight-fitting pants and jeans, will reduce the risk of developing these infections. And according to the words of our discerning doctor, “Making yogurt with live cultures a regular part of your diet might help to restore a healthful yeast balance in the vagina.” 

On top of these best practices, opt for an unscented and 100 percent sterilized virgin cotton material for your sanitary pad like Jeunesse Anion. In a laboratory test conducted by the Institute of Chemistry, UP Diliman in correlation with previously published scientific studies and journals, it validates that Jeunesse Anion pad’s specifically modified cellulose-based hydrogels are not only super-absorbent, hypoallergenic, and non-toxic, but also exhibits anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and odor-reducing benefits! The positive ions embedded in the material attracts the negatively charged bacterial cells, which dramatically results to cell death thus declining bacterial population by 99.9%. However, remember that a regular visit to your OB-Gyn will ensure your reproductive health is in tip-top shape!

Of course, make sure to drink lots of water!

Available at Watsons, Mercury Drug Stores, and other leading supermarkets and groceries nationwide, Jeunesse Anion also offers ultra day non-wing, ultra day pad, ultra night pad, all-night pad, and panty liner to help every woman to go through their period with ease and comfort. For hassle-free shopping with the convenience of delivery straight to your doorstep, visit www.lazada.com.ph and www.shopee.ph.

Wellgold International Inc. distributes Jeunesse Anion Sanitary Napkin and Liners and currently available at Watsons, selected Mercury Drug and South Star Drug outlets, SM department store’s health and beauty section, Robinson’s Supermarket and selected department stores, Shopwise, Rustan’s Supermarket, Waltermart, Landmark Department Store, PCX stores, selected Metro Gaisano outlets, plus other selected stores in Visayas and Mindanao. You can also purchase online with free delivery via www.lazada.com.ph. For more health tips, visit www.jeunesseanion.com and follow Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram: Jeunesse Anion. For inquiries, email: wellgoldinternational@gmail.com or call (02) 4701294.

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