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Thank you for sharing your problem with me. The most important thing I can tell you is that you must visit the doctor immediately. I have no way of knowing what could be going on or the seriousness of it but I am concerned by your description of itching, swelling and pain. I hope you will heed my advice and visit a gynaecologist sooner rather than later. For now, let us talk about some of the possible reasons for your itching.
1 Bacterial infection: It’s possible that you have an active infection. This could have been caused by something as common as hygiene eg wiping from back to front, which swipes bacteria-laden matter from the anal opening to the urinal and/or vaginal opening. It can also be as a result of certain STIs e.g. gonorrhea or syphilis. Whatever the case, the kind of infection will be determined by your doctor after appropriate evaluation and testing. A bacterial infection can usually be treated with a simple course of antibiotics but certain bacteria respond better to certain antibiotics so again, please visit your doctor.
2 Viral Infection: Another possibility is a viral infection which can include STIs such as herpes (HSV), human papilloma virus (HPV) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Generally speaking, viruses don’t really have treatments per se. What they do have are medical and non-medical interventions that address the symptoms as the virus is allowed time to run its course. In the case of HIV, the intervention involves building up the immune system since the illness comes about as a result of lowered immune system so antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) suppress the virus that suppresses the immune system thus allowing the body to take care of itself. Depending on the particular virus, it can be managed by so many options so don’t think the worst or panic; just see the doctor so you can know for sure.
3 Fungal infection: Most fungal infections in women are usually yeast infections caused by candida. They are notorious for causing itching, burning and a host of other inconvenient or embarrassing symptoms. Thankfully, they can be managed through a simple application of an antifungal cream, a one-day or seven-day course of medication. Whatever the case, you know what I’m going to say next; see a doctor.
4 Personal hygiene: Sometimes people get defensive when personal hygiene is mentioned as a possible cause for something going on down there. The truth is, it has happened to the best of us; women have three openings that are right next to each other in a very close space so it’s not unthinkable that one day, one time, something that wasn’t supposed to got into the wrong ‘southern’ entrance or exit. Take a shower, avoid strongly-scented soaps and body washes, wipe from front to back and absolutely no douching.
5 Diet: This is an odd one and yet it’s not unusual to find that certain foods are triggering an allergic reaction or sensitivity. It’s interesting because humans can overlook discomfort in certain places on their bodies but somehow pay attention when the discomfort is on the genital areas. I consider that to be God’s own, pre-installed alert system. If you suspect that something in your diet is causing a sensitivity or reaction, stop ingesting it immediately and take an antihistamine or apply an antihistamine to calm the reaction, depending on what your doctor recommends. One thing to note; antibiotics can cause your body to develop more itching; if that happens, increase your intake of natural yogurt with live cultures and buttermilk (maziwa mala) and reduce or eliminate your sugar intake, especially during treatment.
I hope you see a theme here; visiting a doctor is inevitable so do it and be done with it so you can get on with the business of living and loving as you please.
Maggie Gitu holds an MA in Marriage & Family Therapy. She practices as a Marriage, Family & Sex Therapist. Reach her at [email protected] or via her Facebook page: Maggie Gitu