Can the monsoons lead to a vaginal infection?
The Monsoon is the most awaited season of all, but with its beauty, comes a host of illnesses and fungal infections, especially for women. "As the weather continues to be humid and wet during the rainy times make it is perfect for the growth of many microorganisms. Vaginal infections can become common during monsoons and exiting monsoons, especially vaginal candidiasis if intimate hygiene is not maintained. It not only makes you uncomfortable by causing irritation, discharge, and intense itching but also affects your fertility potential." says Anagha Chhatrapati, Consultant- Gynaecology at Global Hospital, Parel, Mumbai.
"Yeast also called Candida albicans is present as a commensal in the vagina and female genital tract. Whenever the immunity goes down due to immunosuppression, diabetes, or even sexual activity, it can disrupt the vaginal wall and cause infections. The infection is typically characterized by profuse curdy white discharge associated with intense itching in the perineum. It definitely affects the vagina, vulva, and inner thighs as well. In mild infection, there will be minimal vaginal discharge associated with itching. In severe cases, there can be profuse curdy white discharge with excoriation and bleeding due to epithelial damage. Secondary bacterial infections can lead to foul smells. It can lead to painful coitus and burning micturition. In monsoon due to dampness and weather conditions, one is more prone to vaginal infections, especially candidiasis," adds Anagha.
What are some of the precautions you'd suggest we exercise during monsoons to avoid having to deal with this situation?
Anagha: Use cotton and loose-fitting undergarments
Do not wear wet clothes
Change if the clothes get wet
Take care of immunity. Include probiotics like curd or supplements and a lot of Vit C in the diet.
Avoid indulging in a diet rich in refined carbohydrates.
Treatment of vaginitis is always for mixed infections. Generally, for mild infection local vaginal pessary or suppository containing antibiotic and antifungal medications for 7 nights is sufficient. Avoid the course during menses. If sexual intercourse happens wash the private part with water and insert the pessary afterward. Keep it overnight. Simultaneous treatment of sexual partners is essential to avoid recurrence. In severe cases, give oral antibiotics and antifungals. Treat the underlying cause like strict sugar control.
Does lingerie have anything to do with whether we develop such infections?
Anagha: Generally, clothing will not cause infections directly, but it can lead to skin irritation and rashes, especially synthetic and tight without ventilation. This makes one prone to catching an infection. Better to avoid wearing the same.
What are the other factors that can cause such an infection?
Anagha: Diabetes leads to increased sugar in body secretions making it a favorable breeding ground for yeast infections.
Keeping a strict glycemic index is of utmost importance.
Stress can alter immune response, and physical stress like recovery from fever or illness can lead the body to catch these opportunistic infections
Antibiotics given for the treatment of other diseases can kill the protective vaginal lactobacilli. This alters vaginal pH, leading to candidiasis
Sexual activity with an infected partner and indulging in oral sex can lead to fungal infections
Pregnancy may make a woman prone to vaginitis
Immunosuppression due to HIV AIDS, cancer chemotherapy, or steroid treatment leads to recurrent vaginal candidiasi
Excessive hygiene practices like vaginal douching and washing with a corrosive soapy solution can kill protective lactobacilli and disrupt vaginal mucosa leading to severe infection.