Essential Oils for Vaginal Infections

It is interesting to know that…

“Nearly all adult women have had at least one vaginal infection in their lifetime”…

But many don’t have a clue.

Statistic showed that vaginitis has been considered one of the most common gynecologic problems encountered by women worldwide. And it is also number one reasons patients most often visit gynecologists.

What is Vaginitis?

Have you ever had a discomfort and embarrass experience when there are strong, fishy odour and discharge from the vagina? Or you had an experience of itching or burning sensation around the vagina?

If the answer is YES, then you might develop an infection.Vaginitis is “an inflammation or infection of the vagina that can result in discharge, itching and pain.” (Mayo clinic)

The three most common types of vaginitis are:

1) Bacterial vaginosis (BV)

BV is caused by overgrowth bacteria normally present in vagina and it is correlates with a decrease or loss of protective lactobacilli, which disturb the natural balance of vaginal environment.

2) Trichomoniasis

Trichomoniasis is caused by infection with a protozoan parasite called Trichomonas vaginalis. It is a common sexually transmitted disease and the protozoan parasite may persist for months to years in epithelial crypts and periglandular areas. May be symptomatic or asymptomatic.

3) Vulvovaginal Candidiasis (VVC)

This infection is mostly caused by Candida albicans. Candida species are normal flora of skin and vagina. VVC happened due to the disruption of normal vaginal ecology that caused by overgrowth of C. albicans and other non-albicans species.

The following are the differentiation of the three different types of Vaginal Infections:

Differential Diagnosis of Vaginal Infections

Diagnostic Criteria Syndrome
Normal Bacterial Vaginosis Trichomonass Vaginosis Candidas Vulvoginitis
Vaginal pH 3.8 – 4.2 >4.5 >4.5 ≥ 4.5 (usually)
Discharge White, clear, flocculent Thin, homogeneuous, white, greay, adherent, often increased Yellow-green, frothy, adherent, increased White, curdy, ‘cottage cheese-like’, sometimes increased
Amine odour (KOH) whiff test Absent Present (fishy) May be present (fishy) Absent
Main patient complaints None Discharge, bad ordour (possibly worse after intercourse), possible itching Frothy discharge, bad ordour, vulvar pruritius, dysuria Itching/ burning, discharge

Source: APGO Educational Series in Women’s Health Issues

So, What Constitutes a Healthy and Normal Vagina?

We need to understand what constitutes a healthy and normal vagina, before we can maintain the healthiness of our vagina.

  1. Vagina discharge is clear to white, odourless, and high viscosity
  2. Acidic environment (pH3.8 – 4.2)
  3. Normal bacterial flora is dominated by lactobacilli
  4. The vagina is naturally self cleansing, produce lactic acid

Can Essential Oils Help in Vaginal Infections?

The following essential oils are my recommendation for the vaginal infection:

1. Lavender (Lavendula angustifolia)

Lavender essential oil has a long history of medicinal used for it antimicrobial activity against fungi and bacteria. Behmanesh, et. al. (2015) reported that lavender essential oil is effective in reducing the amount of C. albicans fungus in vitro. The main components, linalool and linalyl acetate of Lavandula angustifolia essential oil can kill or inhibit the growth of fungi.

2. Tea Tree (Melaleuca alternifolia)

The treatment of tea tree oils (Melaleuca alternifolia) on vaginal infections is reported in the clinical studies as an effective and well-known for its broad spectrum antimicrobial activity.

In vitro, tea tree oil appears very promising against organisms associated with bacterial vaginosis. ”

“Blackwell (1991) treated a patient with BV using Melaleuca alternifolia vaginal pessaries with good results.”

Method of Application:

1. Sitz Bath.

I like to use this method as it is effective and easy to prepare. You just need a lukewarm water with few two to three drops lavender oil or tea tree with dispersant.

2.Vaginal Suppositories

This recipe was given in “Buckle, J., (2003), Clinical Aromatherapy: Essential Oils in Practice” book. The author is very confident with this treatment methods as she had tried over the last 10 years to many patients and colleagues. Usually it can recovered within 3 days.

Prepare two or three drops of Melaleuca alternifolia, blend with 5 ml of cold-pressed vegetable oil. Use tampon and roll with the oil mixture and then insert into the vagina.

Three times a day with new tampon and the mixture. If outer area is infected, you can use Lavandula angustifolia in sitz bath.

Precaution:

Be aware sometimes your tea tree oil is oxides and it can cause irritation and uncomfortable in your vaginal tissue.

Reference:

Buckle, J., (2003), Clinical Aromatherapy: Essential Oils in Practice, 2nd Edition, Elsevier Science.

Dr. Mohamed Hatta Mohamed Tarmizi, 2012, Vaginal Discharge, Myhealth Kementerian Kesihatan Malaysia, http://www.myhealth.gov.my/en/vaginal-discharge/

Adrea, 2012, Tea Tree Oil vs Vaginal Yeast Infection, http://www.olivebranchorganic.com/tea-tree-oil-vs-vaginal-yeast-infections/

The Medicinal Plants Archive, 2016, Infections of the Genitourinary System, https://www.medicinalplantsarchive.us/essential-oils/infections-of-the-genitourinary-system.html

Behmanesh, et. al., 2015, Antifungal Effect of Lavender Essential Oil (Lavandula angustifolia) and Clotrimazole on Candida albicans: An In Vitro Study, Scientifica (Cairo).

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