India has the second highest incidence of diabetes in the world, with nearly 8 crore patients. Half of them are women. Diabetes affects functioning of human organs such as the heart, eyes, kidneys and feet. In women, diabetes also impacts vaginal health as the risk of acquiring vaginal infection increases significantly. Ironically, most women ignore symptoms of infection, probably due to the stereotypical role of a “caretaker” of the family which molds them into prioritizing the health of other family members above their own. Inequitable access to health resources prevents early diagnosis of diseases in women, including diabetes. As a result, further complications and vaginal infection caused by diabetes often go undetected for long before proper treatment is administered.
One of the growing concerns among women and health professionals in the country is gestational diabetes, a type of diabetes that affects pregnant women. With drastic changes in lifestyles, women are no longer follow a physically active lifestyle during pregnancy as rigorously as they used to in earlier generations. This lack of physical activity makes them obese, which has become one of the top reasons for gestational diabetes. Every fifth women in the country suffers from this and it further compromises their intimate health.
If the diabetes in a woman is not controlled properly, and her blood sugar remains consistently higher, it leads to a high sugar level in the mucous membrane including vagina. This creates a favorable environment for bacteria and yeast to grow and flourish. Bacteria and yeast are known to be the two main causes of vaginal infection.
It is imperative for women to consult a health expert to get her infection diagnosed properly. For example, a bacterial infection would most likely be treated with antibiotics, whereas a yeast infection may need to be managed with anti-fungal agents.
Surprisingly, it is easy to prevent vaginal infection caused by diabetes. Women should keep their blood sugar levels within limit by doing regular exercise and modifying diet to include a lot of vegetables and fruits. Also, they should follow good hygiene practices, such as wearing airy undergarments made of cotton and changing them daily. Women should wash their vagina regularly with a natural intimate wash and avoid using soap or cosmetic vaginal wash containing soap, as these can cause pH imbalance. Cleaning vagina with scented liquid soaps may harm the delicate intimate skin due to the harsh chemicals present in these products. By following an appropriate diet, controlling blood sugar, maintaining good intimate hygiene, and using a natural intimate wash, women can keep themselves free from the agony of vaginal infection caused by diabetes.