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Vaginal Infections

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Vaginal infection or vaginitis is inflammation of the vagina (and the vulva) from microbes, allergens, chemicals, etc. that can lead to various abnormal symptoms in the vagina. There are several treatments for vaginal infections depending on the nature of infection. We explain you the details over here.

Common types of vaginal infections

  • Bacterial vaginosis,is overgrowth or imbalance of certain bacteria present in the vagina
  • Yeast infections is usually caused by the yeast Candida albicans
  • Trichomoniasis- It’s a sexually transmitted disease caused by a parasite Trichomonas vaginalis
  • Chlamydia infection is a sexually transmitted disease in humans caused by the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis
  • Non-infectious vaginitis- caused by irritants and unhygienic practices

Symptoms of vaginal infections

  • Abnormal vaginal discharge characterized by foul smell and change in colour (greenish) and consistency
  • Irritation, swelling, soreness and redness sensation in the vagina
  • Burning and pain while urinating
  • Abdominal pain
  • Pain during intercourse, bleeding after sex

What causes vaginal infections?

There are several factors that can lead to infection in the vagina. The microbial flora that helps to maintain the pH of the vagina gets imbalanced due to microbial attack, stress, etc. We explain the most obvious reasons behind vaginal infections:

  • Bacterial infections or bacterial vaginitis
  • Yeast infections – Candida
  • Viral infections
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases- Trichomoniasis, Chlamydia
  • Reaction from chemicals contained in perfumed soaps, tampons, napkins, sprays, cleansers
  • Unhygienic practices- not changing tampons and pads frequently, wetness in vaginal area, etc.

Diagnosis of vaginal infections

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If your doctor suspects a vaginal infection, then you may be referred to a sexual health expert who will further analyse symptoms, check your medical history (esp. of vaginal infection and STDs), enquire about your hygiene practises and sexual habits. The tests that you need to undergo are:

  • Urine tests
  • Pelvic exam to look into the symptoms and then collect a cervical smear or fluid for further laboratory examination

Treatment of vaginal infections

The treatment depends on the type and source of the infection i.e. whether it is bacterial, viral, yeast, parasitic, etc. or caused due to non microbial infection.

In context of this, anti-fungal topical creams, ointments, suppository and pills are administered. Antibiotic treatment is prescribed to treat bacterial vaginal infections and STDs. You need to complete the dosage as suggested by your doctor to get rid of the infection.

Non microbial infections heal on their own once you stop using that product that must have triggered the infection and practice hygienic habits at the same time.

You can take compress with a cold washcloth to get relief from swelling and then make sure you dry the area with a clean soft towel.

How to prevent vaginal infections?

You can protect yourself from vaginal infections very easily by incorporating the following habits.

Practise hygiene- Clean your vagina while bathing with normal soaps (deodorant and detergent free). You can use a tissue to clean yourself after passing urine.

Keep it dry- Microbes thrive in wet environment. Make sure your underwear is always dry. Use a panty liner while travelling for extra protection.

Maintain a healthy flora- Avoid flushing and rinsing your vagina harshly. Instead clean it gently so to that the healthy bacterial flora resides there to protect from infections.

Avoid irritants- Stay away from fancy self-hygiene products like perfumed cleansers, scented pads, liners and tampons, sprays, etc.

Practise safe sex- The best option is to use a condom. Either you use it or ask your partner to use a male condom. This gives protection from STDs

It’s important to get yourself checked when you experience the aforementioned symptoms. However, the best idea is to prevent than to succumb to an infection. So, take precautions to maintain proper health of the vagina.

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Written by: Saptakee sengupta
Date last updated: January 19, 2015