Are there alternative treatments for vaginal infections?

Patricia Geraghty, NP
Women's Health

A relatively new treatment approved by the FDA for estrogen deficient vulvovaginitis, also called genitourinary syndrome of menopause, is CO2 laser therapy with a brand name of Mona Lisa Touch. The laser penetrates the surface tissue in a small grid pattern making tiny wounds. This stimulates the body's own healing mechanisms, restoring the tissue thickness and lubrication. Tissue health is then maintained with follow up treatment on an as-needed frequency. This treatment is an option for any woman but particularly for women who should not use estrogen.

Although infections of vulvovaginitis respond best to medications, there are several alternative methods you can use while treating your symptoms:

  • Maintaining excellent hygiene is the most important alternative treatment. This includes washing your hands more frequently, wiping from front to back to prevent germs from your stool from entering your vagina and wearing condoms during sexual activity.
  • Using a sitz bath with baking soda or epsom salts can reduce itching and swelling.
  • Applying ice packs or a cool washcloth onto the genital area can also make the area less sore.
  • Wearing looser fitting underwear (made from cotton instead of spandex or silk), both in the healing process as well as in preventing further infections can help discourage bacteria or fungi from invading or overpopulating your vagina.

For women with estrogen deficient vulvovaginitis, the most recommended alternative treatment is an increase in sexual activity. Although symptoms such as irritation, dryness, or sores often decrease a woman's desire for sex, it can be extremely helpful in treating existing symptoms and preventing new ones. Sex kick starts a woman's natural lubrication system and restores vaginal elasticity. However, women with estrogen deficient vulvovaginitis should take extra precautions against contracting sexually transmitted diseases because their vaginal walls have been thinned by vaginal atrophy, which results in an increased risk of infection. Condom usage is usually recommended in such cases.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.