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Holistic Approach to Treating Atrophic Vaginitis PDF Print E-mail
Written by Allen Lawrence, M.D.   
Saturday, 27 November 2010 05:50

If you have been experiencing vaginal dryness or irritation, and you either do not want to use medical treatments, or you already are using them and need more help, then this article will provide a number of non-medical treatments that can help provide additional relief:

Symptoms of Atrophic Vaginitis

Vulvo-vaginal symptoms:

  • Dryness
  • Itching
  • Burning
  • Dyspareunia
  • Burning leukorrhea
  • Vulvar pruritus
  • Feeling of pressure
  • Yellow malodorous discharge

Urinary symptoms:

  • Dysuria
  • Hematuria
  • Urinary frequency
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Stress incontinence


If Sex is the Problem

One of the more common symptoms associated atrophic vaginitis is pain when having intercourse. There are several simple remedies that may help with mild symptoms:

  • Try a vaginal moisturizer, such as K-Y Silk-E, Me Again or Very Private, to restore some moisture to your vaginal area. You may have to apply the moisturizer every two to three days. The effects of a moisturizer generally last a little longer than those of a lubricant.
  • There are many natural, over-the-counter lubricants, they are generally made with coconut oil, kiwi fruit extracts, olive and other natural oils. Natural lubricants may provide an alternative for women who may not find benefit in the more common OTC lubricants such as the water-based lubricants, Astroglide or K-Y, which are used to reduce discomfort during intercourse. Avoid petroleum jelly or other petroleum-based products for lubrication if you're also using condoms. Petroleum can break down latex condoms on contact.
  • Allow time to become aroused during intercourse.


A Holistic Approach to Atrophic Vaginitis

There are a number of alternative herbal medications which have over the years been used to treat vaginal dryness and irritation associated with menopause. Unfortunately, very few of this herbal products have any actual evidence proving they are effective. However, interest in complementary and alternative medicine is growing and researchers are working to determine the benefits and risks of various alternative treatments for vaginal atrophy. Here are a number of herbal products which either have meet some standards or have been used for so many years and have good deal of observational evidence that suggests they do work:

Isoflavones: These are plant-derived compounds that have estrogen-like properties (phytoestrogens). Isoflavones are usually extracted from soy and/or red clover. They can be helpful for treating vaginal atrophy. Before using any phytoestrogen products it is essential that you have a medical exam, pelvic exam, Pap smear, physician breast exam and mammography or breast thermography. Phytoestrogens have an estrogen like effect and can cause or worsen some diseases or conditions that are associated with elevated estrogen levels, such as uterine fibroids, endometriosis, or breast, uterine and ovarian cancer. Yu should also be very cautious if you are already taking any medications that increase your level of estrogen, such as birth control pills, hormone therapy or medications that decrease your level of estrogen, such as Tamoxifen. See supplement section  for dosage.

Other phytoestrogens that might be helpful are licorice, red clover, alfalfa, fennel, anise, hops and Asian ginseng.

Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA):
This is a natural steroid produced by your adrenal gland that's converted into estrogen and testosterone. With aging, the level of DHEA declines in women, suggesting this depletion may have something to do with age-related problems. Some studies show that intravaginal DHEA tablets help to reverse vaginal atrophy without increasing levels of circulating estrogen. But these positive results need to be duplicated before they can be considered standard therapy. Low blood levels of DHEA are associated with increased risk or several cancers, while, high blood levels are associated with considerably lower, even no risk of these same cancers. See supplement section  for dosage.

Black Cohosh:  Black cohosh is an herbal supplement often used to treat menopausal symptoms, particularly hot flashes. While it is frequently recommended for the treatment of atrophic vaginitis, to date no study has yet confirmed its effective in treating vaginal atrophy.


What If a Vaginal Infection Is Associated with Vaginal Atrophy?

Natural Remedies for Vaginitis

Vaginitis is a term used to refer to any infection or inflammation of the vagina. The common symptoms are itching, burning, and vaginal discharge that is different from normal secretions. Discomfort during urination or sexual intercourse may occur, it is possible to have vaginitis with no symptoms.

Vaginitis can be caused by a number of factors including but not limited to:

  • Vaginal irritation or allergy
  • Candida vaginitis
  • Vaginitis related to sexual activity - bacterial vaginosis and trichomoniasis being the most common
  • Atrophic vaginitis occurs after menopause
  • General poor health. A Weakened immune system.
  • Hot weather: Wearing non-ventilating clothing, especially underwear, or any other conditions that increases genital moisture, warmth and darkness. These foster the growth of germs.
  • Poor hygiene: Body cleanliness is very important, especially if you are overweight. Regular bathing with mild soap goes a long way towards fighting infections, controlling the growth of germs and preventing future infections.


For all types of vaginitis we recommend the following natural remedies:

Serrapeptase:  Serrapeptase digests inflammation in all forms
Zell-Oxygen:  Zell-Oxygen helps the immune system to work properly again. It is a product that has many years of successful clinical use behind it and can justly be described as an essential supplement.

Colloidal Silver: Colloidal Silver is a natural broad spectrum antibiotic with beneficial side effects that subdues inflammation and promotes healing. Destroys bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites.. Take orally or apply topically as directed on label.


Symptom Relief  for Non-Infectious Vulvo-Vaginitis, Including Atrophic Vaginitis

Noninfectious vulvovaginitis is common. It often result from hypersensitivity or irritant reactions to hygiene sprays or perfumes, menstrual pads, laundry soaps, bleaches, fabric softeners, fabric dyes, synthetic fibers, bathwater additives, toilet tissue, or, occasionally, spermicides, vaginal lubricants or creams, latex condoms, vaginal contraceptive rings, or diaphragms.

The treatment os similar to the treatment of atrophic vaginitis. Sometimes a mild steroid cream such as hydrocortisone 1% (over-the-counter) or 5% (prescription) will help. Oatmeal of cabbage leaves can help with the discomfort or Pyridium (phenazopyridine) a bladder analgesic if there is bladder pain. For more ideas see below.

Aloe Vera is helpful for infections and is known for its healing effects. Aloe Vera juice can be applied topically to relieve the itching. It can also be taken internally or used as a douche.

Oatmeal poultice can be very effective in relieving pain and discomfort in the vaginal area. Simple mix one or more packets of instant oatmeal with cold water. Make sure that it is not runny and is thick enough to cover the vulva without making a great mess. Wash off once treatment is concluded with cool water or in the shower.

Douche with infusions made from antiseptic herbs such as Calendula, Echinacea, Garlic, Goldenseal, fresh Plantain, St. Johns Wort, or Tea Tree oil, along with herbs such as Comfrey leaves, to soothe irritation. Echinacea and Goldenseal can also be taken internally. Note: Comfrey is recommended to be used externally only. Do not take Goldenseal internally on a daily basis for more than one week at a time, do not use it during pregnancy, and use it with caution if you are allergic to ragweed.

Calendula and vitamin A vaginal suppositories are soothing and healing to irritated tissues. Goldenseal suppositories are useful for all types of infection. Garlic suppositories can be used for treating yeast infections. You can make the suppositories using a clove of peeled garlic. Wrap gauze around the Garlic and insert inside the vaginal cavity. Every three to five hours, replace with a fresh suppository, and repeat for three to five days until the infection is gone. Garlic capsules can be used instead of the suppositories to treat yeast infections as well.

Tea Tree oil is good for vaginitis. Topical tea tree oil cream is effective against fungal infection, herpes blisters, warts, and other types of infections. Tea tree oil suppositories have been used successfully for vaginal yeast infections.

Chamomile has antifungal properties. Caution: Do not take Chamomile on a regular basis as it can result in allergies. If you are allergic to ragweed, avoid Chamomile.

Cinnamon and Dandelion inhibit the growth of Candida albicans. They can be used as a douche or taken internally.

Pau D'Arco contains natural antibiotic agents and has a healing effect. It can be taken internally in capsule form or made into a tea, or used as a douche.

Infectious Vulvo-Vaginitis

If experiencing atrophic vaginitis with an of the following secondary vaginal infections you can use the following treatments:

Wild Yam: Yam cream supports all hormone-related activities in the woman’s body. It acts to strengthen the immune defense system. It helps to correct the effects of candida albicans. Yam cream inserted into the vaginal canal has been shown to be successful for relief of vaginal and/or vulvar symptoms which accompany yeast infections (such as dryness, irritation, pain, itching and genital discharges).

Grapefruit Seed Extract: The Extract from the Grapefruit Seed is a commonly used, safe herbal solution for treatment of chronic vaginal and intestinal yeast infections (Candida) and oral thrush. Used as douche every 12 hours grapefruit seed extract gives relief from symptoms in only 3 days. A grapefruit seed extract douche is used for vaginal infections while capsules or liquid drops mixed with juice is used for internal infections. Grapefruit Seed Extract is safe with no known side effects and as a liquid may be used as a gargle and may be swallowed. Grapefruit seed extract has many of additional healthy benefits. It's a strong anti-bacterial but doesn't seem to hurt beneficial bacteria.

Tea Tree Oil: Topically applied tea tree oil has been studied and used successfully as a topical treatment for Trichomonas, Candida albicans, and other vaginal infections. Tea tree oil must be diluted when used as a vaginal douche, and should only be used for this purpose under the supervision of a healthcare practitioner. Some physicians suggest using tea tree oil by mixing the full-strength oil with vitamin E oil in the proportion of 1/3 tea tree oil to 2/3 vitamin E oil. A tampon is saturated with this mixture or the mixture is put in a capsule to be inserted in the vagina each day for a maximum of six weeks.

Teas of goldenseal, barberry, and echinacea:
These teas are commonly used to treat infectious vaginitis. Although all three plants are known to have antibacterial within test tubes, their effectiveness against vaginal infections has not been fully tested in humans. The usual approach is to douche with one of these teas twice each day, using 1-2 tablespoons (15-30 grams) of herb per pint of water. One to two pints (500-1,000 ml) are usually enough for each douching session. Echinacea is also known to improve immune function in humans. In order to increase resistance against infection, many doctors recommend oral use of the tincture or alcohol-preserved fresh juice of echinacea (1 teaspoon, 5 ml, three or more times per day) to treat infections and to improve the body’s resistance to infection.

Garlic: Garlic neutralizes most fungi. Used along with acidophilus which supplies friendly bacteria it is an excellent treatment for fungal infections. Use Fresh garlic 1-2 cloves with meals 3 times daily or take Kyolic garlic 1 capsule with meals 3 times daily.

Pau D'Arco Teas: Pau d'Arco teas have strong antifungal properties.

Vitex Fruit (Vitex agnus-castus) or Chaste Tree:
Vitex Fruit is found in many woman's dietary supplement, traditionally it is used for menstrual difficulties. Vitex has been heavily researched in Europe. It is widely used to promote overall health and balance in a woman's life. When taken by women suffering from atrophic vaginitis, it can provide level of help for these women.

Lactobacillus acidophilus:
  Lactobacillus acidophilus is a strain of friendly bacteria that is an integral part of normal vaginal flora. Lactobacilli help maintain the vaginal microflora by preventing overgrowth of unfriendly bacteria and Candida. Lactobacilli produce lactic acid, which acts like a natural antibiotic. These friendly bacteria also compete with other organisms for the utilization of glucose. The production of lactic acid and hydrogen peroxide by lactobacilli also helps to maintain the acidic pH needed for healthy vaginal flora to thrive. Plain yogurt, containing a live cultures of Lactobacillus acidophilus, can be used by direct insertion into the vagina. The effective amount of acidophilus depends on the strain used, as well as on the concentration of viable organisms. We generally suggest 1/2 applicator or one teaspoon twice daily approximately 12 hours apart. Some women may need applications three times daily. As the infection improves the dosage is reduced to only once a day, usually at bedtime. Lactobacillus acidophilus see the product label for instructions.

Sexually transmitted infections should always be considered, even in menopausal women, if there are multiple partners or anew partner or it is suspected that the partner has been unfaithful. Whenever sexually transmitted infections are suspected a physician should be consulted immediately and this should be discussed and appropriate tests performed.

There are a number of things you can do to lower the risk of getting vaginitis:

  • Do not try to cover up a bad odor. It could be a sign of infection that should prompt you to see your health care provider.
  • Thoroughly clean contraceptive diaphragms, cervical caps, and spermicide applicators after each use.
  • Use condoms during sex.
  • Check with your health care provider about preventing yeast infections if you are prescribed antibiotics for another type of infection.


Other Helpful Treatment Suggestions for Treatment and Prevention of Infectious Vulvo-Vaginitis

At the first sign of any abnormal discharge or symptoms of vaginitis, such as burning or itching, contact your health care provider. Although vaginitis can cause discomfort, it almost always can be treated once the cause has been found.

Drug therapy: If a vaginal infection is not immediately brought under control see your doctor to obtain appropriate medications directed at the specific organism causing the infection. Your sexual partner may need treatment also. It is best not to do self-treatment for the disorder until the specific cause is determined.

Do not douche unless prescribed for you: If you must douche, avoid sweet smelling douches. If douching provides relief, you can douche with plain water, water with 2 acidophilus capsules added, or plain yogurt. You can also add 1 teaspoon of fresh garlic juice.

Burning on Urination: If urinating causes burning, urinate while bathing or urinate through a toilet paper roll or plastic cup with the bottom cut out or pour a cup of warm water over the genital area while urinating. This prevents urine from stinging inflamed skin.

Some self-care techniques include vinegar douches or sitz baths in a solution of 1 teaspoon of white distilled vinegar for every gallon of water or 3 cups of pure apple cider vinegar to bath water to treat vaginitis. Soak in the tub for 20 minutes, allowing the water to flow into the vagina.

Cabbage Leaves: Cabbage leaves are used to treat sore nipples, mastitis. Placing cabbage leaves on top of a maxi pad and applying the pad to the vulva can help to relieve pain. You can experience complete relief from burning and itching within a couple of hours.

Do not use feminine hygiene sprays or scented deodorant tampons.

Homeopathic Remedies

Homeopathic remedies such as belladonna, bryonia and lycopodium may help - consult a qualified homeopathic physician for advice.


Vitamin and Mineral Supplements

Vitamins that may be helpful

Vitamin A: Vaginal administration of vitamin A is recommend to improve the integrity of the vaginal tissue and to enhance the function of local immune cells. Vitamin A can be administered vaginally by inserting a vitamin A capsule or using a prepared vitamin A suppository. Vitamin A when used this way can be irritating to local tissue, so it should not be used more than once per day and for no longer then seven consecutive days. It should be discontinued immediately, if it causes pain or increases the amount of irritation. 25,000-50,000 IU daily. During pregnancy or breast feeding do not exceed 10,000 IU daily.

Beta-Carotene And Carotenoid Complex (Betatene) 10,000 IU daily. As directed on label.

Vitamin B-6 (Pyridoxine):
Vitamin B 50 mg 3 times daily, with meals.

Vitamin B Complex:
  Vitamin B Complex 50-100 mg of each B vitamin daily, with meals 3 times daily (amounts of individual vitamins in a complex will usually vary from brand to brand).

Vitamin C:
Vitamin C With Bioflavonoids     2,000-5,000 mg daily, in divided doses.

Vitamin D:
There's some evidence that vitamin D may help relieve vaginal dryness, although more study is needed. Vitamin D also helps your body absorb calcium, which can help prevent bone loss associated with menopause. You can get vitamin D from sunlight, fortified milk, breakfast cereals and other fortified foods, and supplements. Take 5,000 IU daily.

Vitamin E: Some doctors recommend vitamin E (used orally, topically or vaginally) for certain types of vaginitis. Vitamin E as a suppository in the vagina or vitamin E oil can be used once or twice per day for 3 to 14 days to soothe the mucous membranes of the vagina and vulva. Orally 200-400 IU daily. Can be applied topically to the affected area 3 to 4 times daily.

Minerals

Calcium: 600 to 2,000 mg daily.
Magnesium: 
600 to 1,000 mg daily.
Zinc: 30 mg daily. Do not exceed a total of 100 mg daily from all supplement


Amino Acids    

L-Isoleucine And L-Leucine And L-Lysine:  These are amino acids which you should take with 50 mg vitamin B-6 and 100 mg vitamin C for better absorption.  Use as directed on the product label, take on an empty stomach. Take with water or juice. Do not take with milk. Good for fighting herpes and for tissue repair and healing of skin lesions.

N-Acetyl Glucosamine (N-A-G): 
Another amino acid compound. It acts as a key ingredient needed both to heal and protect mucous membrane tissues. Take as directed on the product label.

Essential Fatty Acids:  Use as directed on the product label.

Prevention

Reduced risk of vaginal atrophy is often associated with a healthy diet, reduce levels of processed and refined foods, regular exercise and optimal fitness. Regular sexual activity, either with or without a partner, can decrease problems with vaginal atrophy. Sexual activity enhances blood flow to your vagina, which helps keep vaginal tissues healthy.

While no special diet has yet been proven to reduce the problems associated with atrophic vaginitis, some foods can influence organism growth and your body's ability to fight an infection. Eating plain yogurt which contains live yogurt cultures can help fight infection and soothe inflammation. Oat bran, brown rice, millet have been recommended in some studies.

If you worry about yeast infections, then your overall diet should be fruit-free, sugar-free, and yeast-free. Avoid aged cheeses, alcohol, chocolate, dried fruits, fermented foods, all grains containing gluten (wheat, oats, rye, and barley), ham, homey, nut butters, pickles, raw mushrooms, soy sauce, sprouts, sugar in any form, vinegar, and all yeast products. Also eliminate citrus and acidic fruits (oranges, grapefruits, lemons, tomatoes, pineapple, and limes) from you diet until the inflammation subsides. Then add them back slowly.

Prevention of Vulvo-Vaginal Infections

  • Keep the genital area clean. Use plain unscented soap.
  • Take showers rather than tub baths.
  • Wear cotton panties or pantyhose with a cotton crotch.
  • Do not sit around in wet clothing, especially a wet bathing suit.
  • After urination or bowel movements, cleanse by wiping or washing from front to back (vagina to anus).
  • Lose weight if obese.
  • Avoid douches, vaginal deodorants and bubble baths. Douches however, may be used to treat symptoms once they have occurred.
  • If you have diabetes, adhere strictly to your treatment program.
  • You may choose to seek medical advice about Replacement Estrogen Therapy. Be sure to do research about the pros and cons of replacement therapy before choosing this option.


If you do not know what atrophic vaginitis is then read Atrophic Vaginitis first, click here.

 


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Last Updated on Saturday, 27 November 2010 06:18
 

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