Google+ Authentic Parenting: Vulvar Itching (Pruritis) and Breastfeeding: Atrophic Vaginitis

Friday, August 30, 2013

Vulvar Itching (Pruritis) and Breastfeeding: Atrophic Vaginitis

Welcome to the August 2013 Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival: Breastfeeding 
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival hosted by Authentic Parenting and Living Peacefully with Children. This month our participants have written about breastfeeding. We hope you enjoy this month's posts and consider joining us next month when we share about breastfeeding.


The topic of this post is not what I initially decided to write about, but it is indeed a post I have been
wanting to write for quite some time and I think it needs more attention than my personal story.

When my son was about 6 months old, I started suffering from what I thought was a yeast infection. I did everything holistic I could think about (no sugar, coconut oil topically, calendula rinses, garlic, you name it), to no avail. So I went to see my gynaecologist and got some cream prescribed. Again, to no avail. I visited the gynaecologist three times in the past year, plus a family doctor. 
The last two visits showed no sign of yeast infection and no matter the treatment, no relief. (For the record, I got two different topical treatments and took two boxes of probiotics specifically designed for the vaginal flora).

After a year and no results or relief, I started researching a bit deeper and bumped onto a file destined at medical students that gave the things they should check for when a woman presented with pruritis vulvae (vulvar itching), this clearly said that if the woman is breastfeeding, pregnant or menopausal, the most likely diagnose is atrophic vaginitis.

Atrophic Vaginitis is an inflammation of the vulvar tissue due to a thinning of tissues and a decreased lubrication, caused by low levels of oestrogen.

Now all three doctors I went to see knew that I was breastfeeding and still didn't make the link. I can only imagine this is because of the fact that very little women breastfeed for longer than 3 months and that they just don't have that on their list when their not dealing with menopausal women.

I discussed the topic a little in my holistic health groups online and got emails from several women thanking me because they finally knew what was wrong and had been in the same dire street as I was for so long.

So what can you do about it?

Western Medicine's treatment of atrophic vaginitis consists of hormonal creams, in first instance, applied topically and lubrication for sex. I didn't really want to go that road, especially since for me, this was going to be temporary, at least until my hormones kicked in again, so I felt like I had to bit the bullet.

I did find a couple things lessen the discomfort:
  • any type of chafing or contact will make the condition worse, so not using toilet paper (or at least not bleached) gives a lot of relief. I used a calendula infusion spray bottle instead, as it's also soothing. Loose clothes will help you further, certainly no panty liners.
  • As little washing as possible, water only dries out tissues further so frequent washing will makes things excessively worse. Choose showers over baths, as sitting in the water gives it time to dehydrate the vulvar skin
  • For soothing, I used cooled coconut oil or calendula infusion
  • The goal is to bring as little distortion as possible to the vaginal area, so chlorinated water, chemically dyed clothing, underwear washed with harsh chemicals... all a big no no
I bet there are ways to get your hormones flowing naturally again, but so far I haven't found any (except maybe red clover infusion, but I'm still unsure about that) and I recently got my period back so I'm hoping that's the last of it.


Visit Living Peacefully with Children and Authentic Parenting to find out how you can participate in next month's Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival!   Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants: (This list will be live and updated by afternoon August 30 with all the carnival links.)
    APBC - Authentic Parenting
  • Breastfeeding During the First Trimester - Bianca from The Pierogie Mama shares her experience of continuing to breastfeed her 17 month old daughter through the first trimester of her second pregnancy.
  • Night Weaning a Four Year Old - Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares how she successfully and gently night weaned her 4 year old daughter this year and how that lead to full weaning on her daughter's terms just this month.
  • Honoring Low Supply Moms with Breastfeeding Support - As a low supply mom, Mandy has worked hard to make as much milk as possible and to give her children the closest thing to CLW. At Living peacefully with Children, she shares her frustrations concerning the use of low supply moms in the attacks against sharing breastfeeding information and support.
  • Vulvar Itching (Pruritis) and Breastfeeding: Atrophic Vaginitis -At Authentic Parenting, Laura writes about a little known condition tied to breastfeeding that can truly mess up your day.



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