Overview of Vaginitis – Women’s Health Issues| Vaginal Infections
What Is Vaginitis?
Vaginitis is inflammation of the vagina . It’s due to an imbalance of yeast and bacteria that normally live in the vagina.
Along with discomfort, you may notice a smell that’s different than usual. You could have an infection caused by bacteria, yeast, or viruses. Chemicals in soaps, sprays, or even clothing that come in contact with this area could be irritating the delicate skin and tissues.
It’s not always easy to figure out what’s going on, though. You’ll probably need your doctor’s help to sort it out and choose the right treatment.
Types and Causes of Vaginitis
Doctors refer to the various conditions that cause an infection or inflammation of the vagina as “vaginitis.” The most common kinds are:
Bacterial vaginosis inflammation of the vagina due to an overgrowth of bacteria. It typically causes a strong fishy odor.
Candida or “yeast” infection, an overgrowth of the fungus candida, which is normally found in small amounts in the vagina.
Chlamydia is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI) in women, usually in those ages 18 to 35 who have multiple sex partners.
Gonorrhea is another common infection spread through sex. It often comes along with chlamydia.
Trichomoniasis is an infection spread by sex that’s caused by a parasite . It raises your risk for other STIs.
Viral vaginitis is inflammation caused by a virus, like the herpes simplex virus (HSV) or human papillomavirus ( HPV ), which spread through sex. Sores or warts on the genitals can be painful.
What should I look for with a vaginal infection?
What should I look for with a vaginal infection?
Some vaginal infections may not produce any symptoms. If you do develop symptoms, the most common are:
vaginal itching a change in the amount of discharge from your vagina a change in the color of your vaginal discharge pain or burning during urination pain during intercourse vaginal bleeding or spotting The symptoms of vaginal infections will also vary based on the cause of your infection:
Bacterial infections typically cause grayish-white or yellow discharge. This discharge may have a fish-like odor that’s easily noticed after sex.
Yeast infections typically produce itching. If discharge is present, it may be thick and white and look like cottage cheese.
Trichomoniasis is a condition that can produce vaginal itching and odor. Discharge from this infection is typically greenish-yellow and may be frothy.
Vaginal infections aren’t life-threatening conditions. However, you should make an appointment to see your doctor if you:
have never had a vaginal infection before
have had a vaginal infection but are experiencing new symptoms
have had different or new sexual partners
have symptoms that return after treatment
If you experience vaginal irritation and have been diagnosed with yeast infections in the past, you may not need to see your doctor.
Yeast infections can be treated at home with over-the-counter vaginal antifungal medications. However, if you’re not sure that you have a yeast infection, it’s always wise to check with your doctor.
What causes vaginal infections?
Vaginal infections can have several causes. If you develop a vaginal infection, your doctor will diagnose and treat your infection based on its cause.
Common causes of vaginal infections include:
Certain bacteria are commonly found in your vagina. An overgrowth of these bacteria can cause bacterial vaginosis Yeast infections.
Yeast infections are usually caused by a fungus called Candida albicans. Many things, including antibiotics, can reduce the number of antifungal bacteria in your vagina. This reduction can lead to an overgrowth of fungi and cause an infection.
This vaginal infection is caused by a protozoan parasite that can be contracted through sexual intercourse.
This condition commonly occurs after menopause . It can also develop during other times in your life when your estrogen levels decline, such as while breastfeeding. Reduced hormone levels can cause vaginal thinning and dryness . These can lead to vaginal inflammation.
Soaps, body washes, perfumes, and vaginal contraceptives can all irritate your vagina. This can cause inflammation. Tight-fitting clothes may also cause heat rashes that irritate your vagina.
In some cases, your doctor may not be able to determine the cause of your vaginal infection. This condition is known as nonspecific vulvovaginitis. It can occur in women of any age, but it’s more common in young girls that haven’t entered puberty
How are vaginal infections diagnosed?
To diagnose a vaginal infection, your doctor will ask you about your health history. They’ll also typically ask about your sexual health such as your current number of sexual partners and your history of past vaginal infections or sexually transmitted infections (STIs) Your doctor may also perform a pelvic exam . During this exam, your doctor may collect a sample of vaginal discharge. They’ll send this sample to a laboratory for analysis. This can help your doctor learn what’s causing your infection.
What Upsets the Normal Vaginal Ecosystem
A normal, healthy vagina contains bacteria and sometimes yeast without necessarily having an infection. But certain things can change the environment in the vagina, enabling bacterial or yeast overgrowth and causing symptoms. These include:
- Douching, or rinsing the vagina with water or other liquid Female hormone
- Taking antibiotics
- Vaginal intercourse
- Pregnancy and breastfeeding
While not all of these can be avoided, douching is unnecessary and potentially harmful.
How quickly will a vaginal infection clear up?
The time it will take for the infection to clear up depends on the type of vaginal infection you have and how quickly you get treatment. For infections that are treated with antibiotics (such as bacterial vaginosis, trichomoniasis and chlamydia) you’re usually given a course to take for around seven days. This can be enough to clear the infection, but sometimes you may need further treatment.
For thrush, you’re usually given a cream or pessary to apply to your vagina for up to three days, or a single tablet. It may take up to a week or two for the symptoms to go.
Genital herpes can last for three or four weeks without treatment, but antiviral medicine may help to get rid of symptoms sooner. Genital warts can take several weeks, or sometimes months, of treatment to get rid of them.
Does yoghurt or tea tree oil help with vaginal infection?
The answer is NO. There’s no evidence to say whether these things can help. Tea tree oil and other essential oils may irritate your skin and actually make your symptoms worse, so you should avoid using these.
What Are the Symptoms of a Vaginal Infection?
Vaginal discharge , itching, and burning are common symptoms of the various forms of vaginitis. Although the symptoms of these infections can be very similar, there are some differences to look for in the color and smell of the discharge.
Sexual excitement and emotional stress have both been associated with an increase in normal physiologic vaginal discharge. This discharge is frequently clear, and watery in consistency. If your vaginal discharge is abnormal in color such as green, has a foul smell, changes consistency, or is significantly increased or decreased in amount, you may be developing a form of vaginitis.
What Causes a Vaginal Infection?
Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is the most common cause of vaginitis. Bacterial vaginosis is caused by a change or imbalance in the types of the bacteria normally found in the vagina and causes an overgrowth of organisms such as Gardnerella vaginalis.
Risk factors include pregnancy intrauterine device IUD ) use, and frequent douching. It is associated with sexual activity, and possibly a new sexual partner or multiple sexual partners. Women who have never had sexual intercourse are rarely affected.
You do not get bacterial vaginosis from toilet seats, bedding, or swimming pools.
In the United States, as many as 25% of pregnant women have bacterial vaginosis. This varies by race and ethnicity from 6% in Asians and 9% in whites to 16% in Hispanics and 23% in African Americans.
Vaginal yeast infections are caused by a fungus , mainly by Candida albicans. This is also called candidiasis, genital candidiasis, or vulvovaginal candidiasis (VVC). Yeast infection can spread to other parts of the body including skin, mucous membranes, heart valves esophagus , and other areas. In rare circumstances, it can cause life-threatening systemic infections mostly in people with weakened immune defenses (such as women who are pregnant and people who are HIV positive, have diabetes , or are taking steroids A majority of adult women have had at least one genital yeast infection in their lifetime. Vaginal yeast infection is not considered a sexually transmitted disease , but some men will develop symptoms such as itching and penile rash following sexual contact with an infected partner.
Yeast infections are caused by an overgrowth of normally growing fungi in the vagina that creates unpleasant symptoms. The yeast are normally kept under control by naturally occurring bacteria in the body. If the natural balance of microorganisms is disrupted, the yeast grow out of control. It is not clear how fungal infections originate, but they are not thought to be sexually transmitted. Infections tend to happen when an imbalance occurs, possibly caused by any of these events:
Antibiotics destroy protective bacteria in the vagina. These bacteria normally stop the candidal organisms from overgrowing. Yeast infection may occur after taking a course of antibiotics for another condition such as strep throat Diabetes or pregnancy:
Both diabetes and pregnancy make the vagina better suited for fungal growth. These conditions lower the glycogen store in certain vaginal cells. They may also raise the sugar content (and the pH) of the vagina and increase the risk of yeast infection.
Birth control pills:
Changes in the vaginal environment occur with increased hormonal levels from estrogen-containing birth control pills. This change creates an environment for the fungus to grow and cause symptoms.
Wearing underwear that is tight or non-cotton:
This can increase temperature, moisture, and local irritation.
HIV/AIDS , for example
Use of douches, perfumed feminine hygiene sprays
Trichomoniasis is a sexually transmitted disease (also called trich, pronounced “trick”) caused by the parasite Trichomonas vaginalis. Trichomoniasis is primarily an infection of the urinary and genital tract. For women, the vagina is the most common site of infection. For men, the urethra is most commonly affected.
Other causes of vaginal inflammation may be allergies to spermicides , vaginal hygiene products, and detergents and fabric softeners. Another type of sexually transmitted disease may be present. Older women may experience atrophic vaginitis (a thinning of the vaginal walls with menopause ). Foreign objects such as a forgotten tampon or another foreign object may cause vaginal irritation.
When Should I Call My Doctor If I Think I Have a Vaginal Infection?
You should seek medical care any time if you have pain. Although vaginal infections may cause unpleasant itching, they should not cause pain.