Vaginal bleeding may also indicate that you are experiencing an ectopic or tubal pregnancy. An ectopic pregnancy occurs when the fertilized egg attaches itself somewhere other than the wall of the uterus. In 95 percent of these cases, the egg becomes stuck inside one of your fallopian tubes, as it travels on its way from the ovary to the uterus. Usually this happens because an infection or inflammation causes the fallopian tube to become partially or completely blocked by scar tissue. In most cases, this type of scarring is the result of pelvic inflammatory disease, a fairly common type of sexually transmitted disease. Because the fallopian tube is not designed to accommodate a growing fetus, the fertilized egg will not develop properly. Eventually, the tube walls will stretch and burst, resulting in a life-threatening loss of blood for you.
At first, you may not be aware that you have an ectopic pregnancy. The first signs are usually sharp, stabbing pain in the pelvis, abdomen, shoulder or neck. Vaginal bleeding and dizziness are other symptoms of this condition. Once your doctor has diagnosed the ectopic pregnancy by sending you for a blood test or ultrasound exam, you will probably require surgery to remove the fetus. Through a small incision in your abdomen, the doctor will insert a long instrument, called a laparoscope, to remove the fetal tissue. Depending on the degree of damage, the fallopian tube will either be repaired or removed. Your chances for a successful pregnancy after an ectopic pregnancy depend on whether the condition was detected early enough to save the fallopian tube. Once you’ve had one ectopic pregnancy, you are at increased risk of having another one.
VAGINAL YEAST INFECTIONS
It is quite common to have increased vaginal discharge during pregnancy. A normal discharge consists of thin, white mucus and is caused by hormones that stimulate glands in the cervix. However, if you notice a discharge that is green or yellow, strong smelling and accompanied by irritation and itching in your vaginal area, then you may have vaginitis, or a vaginal infection.
A yeast organism called Candida albicans often causes vaginal infections. This irritating condition is known as a yeast infection or candidiasis and can be a recurring problem during pregnancy. The Candida organism is found in nearly one-quarter of all pregnant women as they approach their due date. Symptoms of a yeast infection include a burning sensation and thick curdlike discharge. It is treated with an anti-fungal drug that is applied in a topical cream or suppository. To prevent these and other vaginal infections, you should keep your vaginal area clean and dry, wear loose-fitting clothing, avoid synthetic materials next to your skin, wear underwear with a cotton insert and avoid douches or feminine hygiene sprays.
Try the following dietary strategies to prevent and treat vaginal yeast infections.
1. Include fermented milk products in your daily diet. Foods such as yogurt, kefir (a milk beverage) and sweet acidophilus milk all contain friendly bacteria, known collectively as lactic acid bacteria. You may even know some of their names— Lactobacillus acidophilus and bifidobacteria. These bacteria normally live in your intestine where they prevent the growth of infection-causing bacteria and fungi, including yeast. A number of studies have shown that women who consume yogurt or fermented milk beverages each day have a significant reduction in vaginal yeast infections. In fact, one study found that 1 cup of yogurt eaten daily for six months resulted in a three-fold decrease in infection among women experiencing recurrent Candida infections. Some studies have found a yogurt douche to be effective against vaginal yeast infections.
You may already know that these bacteria are available in supplement form. I have often recommended them to clients as a convenient way to get a hefty dose of lactic acid bacteria. However, during pregnancy, I recommend that you stick to eating fermented dairy products as there is very little information on use of supplements at this time. A yogurt a day also gives you close to 300 milligrams of calcium, not to mention protein and some carbohydrate for energy.
2. Add garlic to your meals. You may want to use cooked garlic more often than raw, since some women report being sensitive to fresh uncooked garlic during their pregnancy. A daily intake of garlic and its accompanying sulfur compounds has been used to enhance the body’s immune system and kill many types of bacteria and fungi. One-half to one clove a day is recommended. You can also buy a liquid extract of aged garlic (Kyolic® brand) that lets you add garlic to foods without peeling, cutting or chopping. If you buy this product from your health food store, add a few drops to your yogurt douche. Garlic has been used alone or in combination with yogurt to treat Candida infections.