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Date of last update: 10/14/2017.

Forum Name: Gynecology

Question: Red swelling for my poor wife

 Cosmetic Chemist - Thu Jan 20, 2005 2:09 pm

First of all, this idea of an online help from doctors is amazing. Whoever started this should be awarded something because it does give some support for those of us in dire need. The reason I need to use this is because I am based presently in France, and there are not many doctors who can speak fluently in English and help me and my wife. Perhaps anyone out there can help us out.

My wife has been living in France for about a year now. Before she never has had any problems with a vaginal diesase or anything, but since coming over, she has had what you call a breakout of a red swelling of her vaginal area. She has not been diagnosed yet (since we are still in France), but she feels that it may be herpes simplex, because of its common effect of healthy women (based on info on the internet). However, based on the information on the internet, it usually says that after a few weeks of medication (for example Zovirax) it should disapear.

My wife has however had this swelling on and off for about 10 months now. Each time she uses the Zovirax, the simptoms would disappear for about 2 weeks, and then reappear again. She has discomfort even when sitting down, let alone going to the bathroom.

Perhaps it has to do with the water here in France? Or the soap we are using? I am not sure why her immune system keeps decreasing (thereby having the reoccurance). My question is on how she can keep her immune system up against this problem, and what she can eat, drink, do (keep the area dry? use alcohol to pat dry? specail soap?), to help her out.

Any kind of information (buying on the internet would help since, we are in Europe) that anyone can give would be a blessing to us.

 shelle339 - Sat Feb 12, 2005 10:06 pm

first of all....herpes is a virus, so it can be recurring even if the symptoms are treated because the virus it'self isn't being treated.....her immune system could be down due to all kinds of things like stress, fatigue, even minor situational depression.....but it sounds like she might have what i had a while back. It's called vaginosis......its an infection in the sensitive tissues down there and can be quite uncomfortable....the only way to know for sure is for her to have a culture done and a pelvic exam to be sure it isn't anything else. anyways, just a suggestion, hope things get better for you and her.
 Kathy C, RN - Sun Feb 13, 2005 1:56 am

Dear Chemist, When you say red swelling can you be more specific? It could be many things such as vaginitis:

What is vaginitis?
Vaginitis is a name for swelling, itching, burning or infection in the vagina that can be caused my several different germs. The most common kinds of vaginitis are bacterial vaginosis (BV) and yeast, a fungus. Sometimes trichomoniasis (trich, pronounced "trick") is called vaginitis too. Trichomoniasis is caused by a parasitic protozoa called Trichomonas vaginalis.

How common is vaginitis?
Vaginitis is very common. If you are like most women, you will have some kind of vaginitis at least once in your life.

How can I get vaginitis?
The healthy vagina has a balance of many different kinds of bacteria. "Good" bacteria help keep the vagina a little-bit acidic. This keeps "Bad" bacteria from growing too fast. A healthy vagina makes a mucus-like discharge that may look clear or a little milky, depending on the time of a woman's monthly cycle. When the balance between the "Good" bacteria and the "Bad" bacteria is upset, "Bad" bacteria grow too fast and cause infections. Discharge may have a funny color or a bad smell. Sometimes these "Bad" bacteria and other germs that cause vaginitis can be spread through sex. Other things that can upset the balance of the vagina are:
antibiotics (medicines)
damp underwear
tight pants
poor diet
vaginal products (sprays, lubricants, birth control devices)

What are the signs or symptoms of vaginitis?
The signs or symptoms of vaginitis are different, depending on the germ that you have.
Signs or symptoms of:

Bacterial Vaginosis
What are the signs and symptoms of bacterial vaginosis?
a strong fishy smell, especially after sex
white or grey discharge
watery or foamy discharge
Some cases are so mild that women don't know they have it.
What is the treatment for bacterial vaginosis?
Prescription medication, usually antibiotics, depending on the organism causing the infection is used to treat and/or cure BV. Treatments may include:
Metronidazole (Flagyl)
In most cases male sex partners do not need to be treated

Signs and Symptoms of Yeast
thick, white "cottage cheese" discharge
pain, itching, burning, or redness around the vagina
a smell like baking bread
Treatment for yeast
Antifungals such as:
WARNING: Some yeast medicines make latex condoms and diaphragms weak and more likely to break. If you use a condom or diaphragm, ask your pharmacist or health care provider which medicine you should use.

Vaginitis and Trichomoniasis
Signs and Symptoms of Trichomoniasis ("Trick")
discharge that is green, yellow or grey
a bad smell
itching in or around the vagina
pain during sex
pain when peeing (urinating)
Treatment for trichomoniasis
Curable with antibiotics
Metronidazole (Flagyl)
Use all the medicine prescribed, even if your symptoms go away
Sex partners must also be treated, or you will get trich again
Do not have sex until all partners have finished the medication

How can I find out if I have vaginitis?
If you have symptoms of vaginitis, see your health care provider for a correct diagnosis. To help your provider find out what you have:
Schedule the exam when you're not having your monthly period.
Don't douche 24 hours before your exam.
Don't use vaginal sprays 24 hours before your exam.
If you have sex less than 24 hours before the exam, use condoms.

Herpes simplex is a common and usually mild recurrent skin condition. It can cause "cold sores" or "fever blisters" on the mouth or face--what is called oral herpes. It can also cause similar symptoms in the genital area, which is known as genital herpes.

So if your wife is generally red and swollen it could be vaginitis or if she has outbreaks of cold sores or fever blister lesions that another thing.
The correct treatment depends upon the correct diagnosis. Go to a physician even if you are in France.
Hope this helps.

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