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Inflammation or infection by bacteria, yeast or viral agents of the vagina are called as vaginitis.

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This condition can also occur due to irritation of the vagina by chemicals, perfumes, creams as well as clothing. There are many other reasons for this irritating and itchy condition. Let us know more about vaginitis from the following paragraphs.

Vaginitis Overview

Inflammation, itchiness as well as pain in the vagina is called as vaginits. When the vulva and the vagina, both are affected, it leads to a condition called vulvovaginitis. As mentioned above, there can be different organisms that can lead to vaginitis. Sometimes, more than one type of organism can lead to vaginitis. There are four types of vaginal infections:

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How Does Vaginitis Occur?

Bacterial vaginosis: The normal flora of the vaginia include many bacteria that are called as ‘good’ bacteria. They help keep the vaginal pH acidic and thus prevent recurrent infections. The normal vaginal discharge that is milky or clear in appearance helps maintain the bacterial balance. When the bacteria in the vagina start growing more than normal, it could lead to an infection. This causes vaginitis, that is inflammation, smelly discharge as well as itchiness around the wagon. The smell of the discharge due to bacterial infection is  usually ‘fishy’.

Vaginal yeast infections: Yeast infections occur when one does not maintain personal hygiene. A fungus called Candida albicans starts growing rapidly, leading to vaginitis. It causes a thick, cheesy discharge and a lot of itching in the vagina.

Trichomoniasis Infection: In case of parasitic infections, protozoa called as Trichomonas vaginalis can lead to vaginitis or vulvovaginitis. It causes a foamy discharge that smells really bad.

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Viral vaginitis is usually caused by herpes virus or human papillomavirus.

Atrophic vaginitis is caused by a decrease in the levels of estrogen, especially in case of menopausal women.

These infections occur due to:

  • Hormonal imbalances that cause changes in the vaginal pH
  • Sex with infected partner
  • Poor personal hygiene
  • Use of irritants like cream, sprays, soaps, or nylon or silk undergarments
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Douching
  • Use of condoms, diaphragms, tampons, sexual toys
  • Use of poor quality sanitary napkins or not changing napkins frequently

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In some cases, psychological stress or emotional imbalance can lead to vaginitis. Some women may develop idiopathic vaginitis, that is, inflammation with no known cause.

Vaginitis Symptoms

Common vaginitis symptoms are

  • Increase in vaginal discharge
  • Change in vaginal discharge color and consistency
  • Foul vaginal odor
  • Extreme itching and irritation of the vagina
  • Burning sensation, especially when passing urine
  • Inflammation causing redness and swelling
  • Painful intercourse
  • Light bleeding or spotting

As there are different causes of vaginitis, a few symptoms may differ according to infection. Let us have a look at all the symptoms of vaginitis according to the type of infection.

Bactrial infection

  • Thin, grayish vaginal discharge
  • Vaginal discharge has ‘fishy’ odor

Yeast infection

  • Intense itching and thick discharge

Trichomoniasis infection

  • Greenish yellow discharge
  • Frothy discharge
  • Foul smelling
  • Discomfort after intercourse

Viral infection

  • Appearance of painful lesions or sores due to herpes infection
  • Appearance of genital warts that are pink or purple in color due to HPV infection

Atrophic vaginitis

  • Painful intercourse
  • Itching and burning
  • Increase in urinary urgency as well as frequency

Noninfectious vaginitis

  • Itching
  • Burning
  • Excessive vaginal discharge

Vaginitis Diagnosis

Diagnosis of vaginitis is carried out with a pelvic examination and conducting certain lab tests like microscopic examination of vaginal flora, urine tests, cultures as well as blood tests.

Vaginitis Treatment

Treatment of vaginitis depends on the cause and specific organism to be targeted. Some of the treatments include:

Type of Infection Treatment
Bacterial vaginosis

Use of antibiotics

Application of creams and gels like metronidazole or clindamycin

Trichomoniasis Oral doses of metronidazole or Tinidazole
Yeast infection

Application of antifungal creams like miconazole

Antifungal medications like fluconazole

Vaginal atrophy Estrogen replacement therapy that includes vaginal creams, rings, and even tablets
Noninfectious vaginitis Identifying and avoiding use of the irritant that causes vaginitis

Preventing Vaginitis

Prevention is the key to avoid vaginal infections. Prevention includes:

  • Maintaining proper vaginal hygiene
  • Drying the vagina properly after bathing or cleaning
  • Use fresh, clean undergarments every day
  • Wear clean cotton panties that do not irritate the vaginal skin and allows it to breathe
  • Use of condoms in case of unknown partner
  • Avoid wearing tight clothing, jeans, nylon pantyhose, etc.
  • Avoid using sprays and powders that irritate the skin
  • Use good quality sanitary napkins or tampons

This was a bit about vaginitis and its causes. Practice safe sex and maintain good hygienic habits. Undergo frequent gynecologic examinations, especially if you are sexually active. Speak to your doctor regarding vaginitis and get it treated as soon as possible.

Written by: healthplus24.com team

Date last updated: February 23, 2015

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