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Did you know itchy vagina could be a sign of diabetes?

Want to tackle Chlamydia? Opt for sage tea. © Shutterstock

It might not always mean UTI or an STD.

Written by Debjani Arora |Published : November 20, 2017 6:54 PM IST

In women, itchy vagina could be a sign of a host of problems UTI, STDs, yeast or fungal infections, problems with the pH balance, bacterial infection and more. But seldom do we think that vaginal problems, especially itching down there, can be related to other health conditions. But turns out that a lot of physiological changes happening in the body can trigger vaginal itching, which can have serious consequences. Silently suffering from a condition like diabetes can also be a reason for this condition. As we all know that diabetes increases blood sugar levels and affects all the major organs of the body and it doesn t spare the genitals too.

Studies show that women with diabetes, especially those with poorly controlled glycemia or blood glucose level are prone to developing genital mycotic infections like vulvovaginal candidiasis. Candida albicans is a kind of yeast responsible for causing of vulvovaginal candidiasis in women with diabetes, although Candida glabrata is a prominent bacterium in women with type 2 diabetes mellitus.

Why diabetes causes vaginal itching

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High blood glucose levels promote yeast infection in the vaginal area. It makes the natural pH balance of the area go haywire and this leads to bacteria build-up where the concentration of the harmful bacteria outgrows the good bacteria. This sets the stage for genital infections followed by symptoms like itching, burning, rashes, etc. When there is an excess of glucose or sugar in the blood it sets up an ideal environment for the bacteria to grow and thrive in the vagina making the area moist and damp disturbing the pH level of the area. In women vaginal itch could also be due to genetics, pregnancy, use of estrogen or oral contraceptive pills, select sexual behaviours (e.g., oral sex), etc [1].

Diabetes mellitus is often cited as a risk factor for vaginal infection or itching. Women suffering from diabetes type II often have this problem of bacterial colonisation which leads to infections in the oral cavity and in the genitals. For women who have uncontrolled diabetes have higher chances of relapses and there could be a variety of bacteria that can be a cause of the infection. This is why it is necessary to get your glucose levels under control so there are fewer chances of relapses in terms of vaginal infections [2].

How to treat vaginal infection due to diabetes

The best way to treat the infection (if it is caused due to diabetes) is by controlling your blood sugar levels. Other than that treatment involves either an antifungal cream or ointment (or suppository for women) that is applied intravaginally. If these don t work well, oral treatment or pills are prescribed which in rare cases might have side effects. Antifungal treatment is also offered to sexual partners of patients with diabetes as it could be contagious. However, in most cases, treating vaginal infection or itching in women which diabetes needs a personalised approach as the prognosis of the condition also depends on the sexual hormones, the family of bacteria involved and the hygiene levels. However, controlling blood glucose levels is the best way to tackle this problem effectively.

Reference:

[1]1: Nyirjesy P, Sobel JD. Genital mycotic infections in patients with diabetes. Postgrad Med. 2013 May;125(3):33-46. doi: 10.3810/pgm.2013.05.2650. Review. PubMed PMID: 23748505.

[2] 1: Buchta V, Matula V, Kest nek J, Vejsov M, K iv kov L, Spa ek J. [Is diabetes mellitus a risk factor in genital yeast infections?]. Ceska Gynekol.2013 Dec;78(6):537-44. Review. Czech. PubMed PMID: 24372432.

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