Before we look at the 6 simple steps to cure ‘toilet infection’ let me start by telling you all a story.
Patricia hadn’t even spent 3 months in her hostel when it started, especially the itch that wouldn’t go away.
She could feel it, just like her friend Cynthia had described when they were in secondary school. Cynthia, a boarding student had always filled her in with all the gist from the boarding house and she had always listened intently, secretly jealous over not being able to board too. Cynthia had described it vividly that day, while she had listened with a slight shiver.
Now, while scratching for what felt like the hundredth time, she remembered the symptoms Cynthia had listed; the itching, the milky discharge, and oh, the smell! She had never smelt anything like it.
Since the discussion with Cynthia, she had been extra careful while washing her vag*na, making sure to reach in as far as her hands could go, to ensure that her antiseptic soup would kill every potential vaginal-infection-causing germ. Perhaps she hadn’t done it well enough, especially since she entered the hostel as a fresher a few months ago. She could have sworn that she got the toilet infection from having to share a small toilet with eight girls, especially that tall lanky one whose name she couldn’t immediately remember; the one who was famous for not flushing the toilet properly after use.
6 Simple Steps to Cure ‘Toilet Infection’?
If you were drawn by the heading of this post, by now, you’d probably be wondering why ‘toilet infection’ is in a quote. The answer is simple. It’s simply because there’s no such thing as a toilet infection. You’re probably trying to think of the time when you suffered something similar and you’re almost certain that it started right after you used a public toilet but really, it started long before that “toilet” was used and is more about personal hygiene. Shocking right? It’ll all get clearer if you keep reading.
The word “toilet infection” is a misleading name used to refer to a group of conditions called vaginitis or vulvovaginitis or simply put, vaginal infection. According to Wikipedia, this condition is the inflammation of the vagina and vulva. Symptoms may include itching, burning, pain, discharge, and a bad smell.
3 Main Causes of Vaginitis — ‘Toilet Infection’:
- Bacterial vaginosis
- Vaginal yeast infection (also called candidiasis)
Other causes are low estrogen and allergic reactions. Approximately 33% of women suffer vaginitis at least once in a lifetime.
By now, the big question is, what causes a vaginal infection?
In healthy animals, (including humans), there exists what we call the normal bacterial flora, sometimes called good bacteria. The normal bacterial flora of humans is very complex and consists of more than 200 species of bacteria. A human is first colonized by normal flora at the moment of birth and passage through the birth canal. In the womb, the fetus is sterile, but when the mother’s water breaks and the birth process begins, so does the colonization of the body surfaces. In the vagina, these good bacteria exist, known as lactobacilli. These bacteria help to maintain the normal acidic pH of the vagina. These bacteria exhibit a mutual relationship with the human body, as it protects the host (the body) against potential invasion by disease-causing organisms, and in turn, the host provides a source of nutrients to the bacteria.
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How it Works
Now to get a clearer picture of how this works, think of the vag*na as your house, the bacteria as the doorkeeper and other harmful bacteria as unwanted guests. There are pathogenic (harmful) bacteria everywhere; from your anus, on your skin, on your intimate partner’s finger, your sex toys, etc. Remember that the good bacteria are on standby, making the vag*na uninhabitable for these harmful bacteria that want to overpower the good bacteria. Then somehow, you think killing everyone at the entrance of your house will make your house cleaner. In the process, however, you also kill the good bacteria that has been standing by and helping to maintain balance. Some people think washing the vagina with soap and water will make it clean, but this is not so. The vagina is self-cleansing (I hope we know that the vagina is the passage leading from the opening of the vulva to the cervix of the uterus). Killing the good bacteria only makes it very easy for disease-causing bacteria to find their way in, leading to a vaginal infection.
Bacterial vaginosis is a disease of the vagina caused by excessive growth of bacteria as a result of an imbalance of the naturally occurring bacteria in the vagina. This is the most common vaginal infection in women of reproductive age. It is caused by a combination of several bacteria in the vagina. As earlier established, these bacteria can overgrow when the vaginal pH is upset. This disease although not sexually transmitted, is seen more often in sexually active people, especially with new or multiple sexual partners. Cigarette smoking is also a risk factor.
Common symptoms include increased vaginal discharge, white or grey, that usually smells like fish. This may be followed by burning during urination.
VAGINAL YEAST INFECTION (ALSO CALLED CANDIDIASIS):
Also known as candida vulvovaginitis or vaginal thrush, it is typically caused by the yeast species Candida albicans. The disease is caused by the excessive growth of yeast in the vagina. This can also happen as a result of imbalance. For example, you may be taking antibiotics for another ailment, a urinary tract infection perhaps, and the antibiotic kills the “good” bacteria. This will lead to an overgrowth of yeast.
Other factors that can upset the delicate balance include pregnancy which changes hormone levels and diabetes, which allows too much sugar in the urine and vagina. In addition, a weakened immune system is a risk factor. If you have a disease, like HIV or AIDS, your medications can suppress your immune system.
The most common symptom of a vaginal yeast infection is vaginal itching which may be severe. Other symptoms are burning during urination, a thick white vaginal discharge that typically does not smell bad, pain during sex, and redness around the vagina. In a lifetime, a person may experience a vaginal yeast infection several times. Though uncomfortable, these infections are common.
Complicated yeast infection
You might have a complicated yeast infection if:
- You have severe signs and symptoms, such as extensive redness, swelling, and itching that leads to tears, cracks, or sores.
- You have four or more yeast infections in a year.
- Your infection is caused by a less typical type of fungus.
- You’re pregnant.
- You have uncontrolled diabetes.
- Your immune system is weakened because of certain medications or conditions such as HIV infection.
Factors that increase your risk of developing a yeast infection include:
- Antibiotic use. Yeast infections are common in women who take antibiotics. Broad-spectrum antibiotics, which kill a range of bacteria, also kill healthy bacteria in your vagina, leading to the overgrowth of yeast.
- Increased estrogen levels. Yeast infections are more common in women with higher estrogen levels — such as pregnant women or women taking high-dose estrogen birth control pills or estrogen hormone therapy.
- Uncontrolled diabetes. Women with poorly controlled blood sugar are at greater risk of yeast infections than women with well-controlled blood sugar.
- Impaired immune system. Women with lowered immunity — such as from corticosteroid therapy or HIV infection — are more likely to get yeast infections.
Trichomoniasis, popularly known as trich, is the most common non-viral sexually transmitted disease (STD) in the world. It is typically sexually transmitted, including via oral and anal sex. In this case, the vagina becomes irritated by sexually transmitted parasites. It is caused by the parasite Trichomonas vaginalis. Approximately 70% of people do not exhibit symptoms when they are infected and when symptoms do occur, they typically begin 5-28 days after exposure to the parasite. Having trichomoniasis increases the risk of getting HIV/AIDS. The symptoms can include a bad-smelling thin vaginal discharge, itching in the genital area, burning with urination and pain during sex. Trich affects all genders. Women (especially older women) are more likely than men to get the disease. Black women are more prone to the disease.
Your risk for trich increases if you:
- Don’t use condoms during sex.
- Have multiple sexual partners.
- Trich is very contagious. In addition to affecting the genitals, trich can also infect the anus, mouth, and hands.
Once you’re infected, you can give trich to someone else through:
- Vaginal-penile or vaginal-vaginal intercourse.
- Anal sex.
- Oral sex.
- Genital touching (skin-to-skin contact without ejaculation).
Without treatment, trich can last for months or even years. It doesn’t go away on its own. The entire time you’re infected, you can give the STD to your sexual partners.
Other types of vaginitis are chlamydia, herpes vaginitis, human papillomavirus (HPV), non-infectious vaginitis, and atrophic vaginitis.
How do you feel now, knowing that ‘toilet infection’ is not a thing?
You know what they say, prevention is better than cure. Before we dive into the main focus of this article, 6 simple steps to cure toilet infection, why don’t we take a look at how to prevent these diseases? The summary of the ways of prevention is practicing good personal and healthy vaginal hygiene. For clarity, let us take a look at them one after the other:
First on our list and perhaps one of the most important is,
LEAVE YOUR VAGINA ALONE!
The normal bacterial flora and balance of the vagina must be maintained. Avoid washing the vagina or douching. The vagina is smart, it knows how to take care of itself by itself. All you have to do is keep the surface (the labia) clean with running water and mild soap. Avoid washing the inside. Don’t be like Patricia in the story above. Hers was a case of bacterial vaginosis. It was no toilet infection!
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Other methods of prevention include:
- Avoid multiple sexual partners and always test your sexual partner and yourself for sexually transmitted infections.
- Wear dry cotton panties.
- Stop abusing antibiotics
- Use condoms.
- Do not share sex toys.
- Change out of wet clothes, especially bathing suits as soon as possible.
- Avoid using scented tampons or pads.
- Stop abusing antibiotics.
How To Cure Vaginal Infection – 6 Simple Steps To Cure Toilet Infection
Having established that we hitherto referred to a toilet infection as a vaginal infection, let us get to business. How do we cure it?
Before we talk about a cure, perhaps we should talk about the diagnosis. You must have heard over and over, to avoid self-medication. It also applies in this case. Some people experience some symptoms and immediately rush to the nearest drugstore to pick up some antibiotics without a prescription or they go with a recommendation from someone they know. This ought not to be so.
Like every disease, a vaginal infection is diagnosed by a healthcare provider. You will need to go in for an appointment with your provider and discuss your symptoms. Your provider may need to take a sample of the discharge from your vagina. This will help to determine the type of vaginal infection and ultimately help your provider to proffer a solution that will work. Your provider may also check the pH levels of your vaginal fluid to get closer to a diagnosis. A vaginal infection can pose a real problem and can even lead to bigger issues. As such, the focus should be on getting the best care possible.
Treatment for a vaginal infection depends on the causative organism. A medicine that is appropriate for a yeast infection is not effective for the bacteria that causes bacterial vaginosis. It is important to understand that medication may only cure the most common types of candida associated with yeast infection and will not cure other yeast infections or any other type of vaginitis, hence the importance of seeing a healthcare provider. This is particularly important to save yourself the expense of buying the wrong medication and avoid delay in treating your specific type of vaginitis.
Below, is a quick recap of the steps to cure a vaginal infection:
- Identify that something is wrong and be careful to note your symptoms. This is important because an accurate description of your symptoms will assist your healthcare provider in making the right diagnosis.
- Schedule an appointment with your healthcare provider. Avoid self-medicating. Some providers ask that you abstain from sex for 24 hours before your appointment.
- Your provider may likely recommend some tests and investigations to be carried out. The techniques involved may include microscopy and culture these tests are necessary and will help assist your healthcare provider in making the right diagnosis.
- Your healthcare provider will draw up a treatment plan. Do well to follow the instructions correctly. Your provider may discuss different types of treatment depending on the type of infection. There are two forms of medication in the treatment of yeast infection: oral and topical medication. Oral medications are taken by mouth, while topical medications are applied to the affected area.
- For some forms of vaginitis, your provider may recommend that you go through the treatment plan with your sexual partner.
- Please see your provider if all your symptoms don’t go away completely or the symptoms return immediately or shortly after you finish treatment.
- You and your sexual partners must be treated for trich or you will continue to pass the infection back and forth.
- You shouldn’t have sex for one week after finishing the medication to give the drug time to kill off the infection and for symptoms to clear up. Having sex too soon can lead to reinfection.
- You should see your healthcare provider in three months to ensure you’re no longer infected.
It is your responsibility to yourself to make sure you get the best treatment to get rid of a vaginal infection. Poorly treated pelvic infections can affect fertility in the future.
Finally, let us take a look at the complications of a vaginal infection. What are the possible consequences of a poorly treated or untreated vaginal infection?
Vaginal infections left untreated can lead to further complications, especially for a pregnant woman. For bacterial vaginosis, these include premature delivery, postpartum infections, clinically apparent and subclinical pelvic inflammatory diseases (PID) as well as postsurgical complications (after abortion, hysterectomy, cesarean section), increased vulnerability to HIV infection, and, possibly, infertility.
Studies have also linked trichomoniasis with an increased likelihood of acquiring HIV; theories include that “vaginitis increases the number of immune cells at the site of infection, and HIV then infects those immune cells.” Other theories suggest that trichomoniasis increases the amount of HIV genital shedding, thereby increasing the risk of transmission to sexual partners. While the exact association between trichomoniasis infection and HIV genital shedding has not been consistently demonstrated, there is good evidence that Trichomonas vaginalis (TV) treatment reduces HIV genital shedding. Five studies have been reported so far, and, of these, four found a decrease in HIV genital shedding after TV treatment.
Further, some complications lead to daily discomfort such as:
- Persistent discomfort
- Superficial skin infection (from scratching)
- Complications of the causative condition (such as gonorrhea and candida infection)