VALVE
leads to bleeding. Rarely, vaginal bleed-
ing is caused by cancer of the vagina.
v a g in a l d is c h a rg e
The emission of secretions from the
v a g in a .
Some mucous secretion from
the vaginal walls and the cervix is nor-
mal
in
the
reproductive
years;
its
amount and nature vary from woman
to woman and at different times in
the menstrual cycle (see
m e n s t ru a t io n ).
O ra l c o n tra c e p t iv e s
can increase or de-
crease this discharge. Secretions tend to
be greater
during pregnancy. Sexual
stimulation
also
produces
increased
vaginal discharge.
ABNORMAL DISCHARGE
Discharge may be abnormal if it is
excessive, offensive-smelling, yellow or
green, or if it causes itching. Abnor-
mal discharge may accompany
v a g in itis
(inflammation of the vagina), w hich
may be the result of infection, such as
c a n d id ia s is
(thrush) or
t ric h o m o n ia s is ,
or
may be due to a foreign body, such as a
forgotten tampon, in the vagina.
v a g in a l itc h in g
Irritation in the
v a g in a ,
often associated
with
v u lv a l itc h in g .
Itching is, in many
cases, a symptom of
v a g in itis
(inflamma-
tion of the vagina), w hich may be due
to infection or by an allergic reaction to
chemicals in hygiene or spermicidal
products. Vaginal itching is common
after the
m e n o p a u s e ,
when it may be
caused by low oestrogen levels. Treat-
ment depends on the cause; it may
involve
a n tib io tic d ru g s
or hormones.
v a g in a l re p a ir
An operation to correct prolapse (dis-
placement) of the vaginal wall. This may
be accompanied by a vaginal
h y s t e re c -
to m y
(surgical removal of the uterus and
vagina) if the uterus is also prolapsed
(see
u te ru s , p r o la p s e o f ).
v a g in is m u s
Painful, involuntary spasm of the mus-
cles surrounding the entrance to the
v a g in a
.Vaginismus interferes with
s e x u a l
in t e rc o u rs e .
It can sometimes also inter-
fere with medical vaginal examinations.
The cause of the condition is usually
psychological. (See also
in t e rc o u rs e , p a in -
fu l; p s y c h o s e x u a l d y s fu n c tio n .)
v a g in it is
Inflammation of the
v a g in a
that may be
caused by infection, commonly with
the fungus C
a n d i d a a l b i c a n s
(see
c a n d id i-
a s is
),
the parasite T
r i c h o m o n a s
v a g i n a l i s
(see
t ric h o m o n ia s is
),
or bacteria.
After the
m e n o p a u s e
the vaginal lin -
ing
becomes
fragile
and
prone
to
inflammation. This is called atrophic
vaginitis and is due to a reduction in the
production of
o e s t ro g e n h o rm o n e s
.
Infections are treated with
a n tib io tic
d ru g s
or
a n tifu n g a l d r u g s
.
In cases of aller-
gy,
irritants
should
be
avoided. Any
foreign bodies, including tampons that
may have been left in, are removed.
Atrophic vaginitis is treated with
o e s t ro -
g e n d ru g s
.
(See also
v u lv itis
;
v u lv o v a g in itis
.)
v a g o to m y
An operation in w hich the
v a g u s n e r v e
,
w hich controls production of digestive
acid by the stomach wall, is cut. Once
widely used to treat some cases of
p e p t ic
u lc e r
,
it has now largely been replaced
by drug treatment.
v a g u s n e rv e
The tenth
c ra n ia l n e rv e
and the principal
component of the parasympathetic divi-
sion of the
a u t o n o m ic n e rv o u s
system.The
vagus nerve passes from the medulla
oblongata (in the
b ra in s te m
)
through
the neck and chest to the abdomen and
has branches to most of the major
organs, including the larynx (voicebox),
pharynx (throat), trachea (windpipe),
lungs, heart, and digestive system.
v a lg u s
The medical term for outward displace-
ment of a part of the body.
V a liu m
A former brand name for diazepam, a
b e n z o d ia z e p in e
antianxiety drug,
m u s c le
re la x a n t
,
and
a n tic o n v u ls a n t d r u g
.
v a lp ro a te
See
s o d iu m v a lp ro a t e
.
V a ls a lv a ’s m a n o e u v re
A forcible attempt to breathe out when
the airway is closed. The manoeuvre
occurs naturally when an attempt is
made to breathe out while holding the
v o c a l c o r d s
tightly together. This hap-
pens, for example, at the beginning of a
sneeze. W hen performed deliberately by
pinching
the nose and holding
the
mouth closed, the manoeuvre can pre-
vent pressure damage to the eardrums
(see
b a ro t ra u m a
).
v a lv e
A structure that allows fluid or semi-
fluid material to flow through a tube or
passageway in one direction but w hich
closes to prevent reflux (backflow) in
the opposite direction. The valves at the
exits from the
h e a rt
chambers and in
the
v e in s
are essential components of
the
c irc u la t o ry s y s t e m
.
There are also
small valves in the vessels that make up
the
ly m p h a t ic s y s t e m
.
Valves in the circulatory system
The valves are flaps that open to allow blood
to flow in one direction but close to prevent blood
flow in the opposite direction.
V
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