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Vaginitis - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, and Prevention

Published on Jun 24, 2021   -  4 min read

Abstract

Vaginitis is a common non-life-threatening condition causing inflammation of the vagina. This article explains this condition in detail.

Contents
Vaginitis - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, and Prevention

Introduction:

Vaginitis is a clinical condition characterized by infection or inflammation involving the vagina, whereas vulvovaginitis means inflammation of both the vulva and vagina. Vulva belongs to the genito-urinary tract and denotes the external part of the genitals.

What Are the Symptoms of Vaginal Infection?

Some of the causes of vaginitis do not show any signs or symptoms. But, in those cases with infections, the following can be experienced by the patient:

Various other symptoms are dependent on the type of infection, which are as follows:

1) Bacterial Infections:

It causes discharge which is grayish-white or yellow. This discharge can produce an odor that is fish-like and can be noticed after sex.

2) Yeast Infections:

The most common symptom is itching. It might also produce discharge which can be thick and white and resemble cottage cheese.

3) Trichomoniasis:

It is a clinical condition that is characterized by itching of the vagina and a bad odor. The discharge can be greenish-yellow in color and also frothy.

Vaginal infections are mostly treatable and do not indicate any life-threatening condition. But, in the following situations, consult your physician:

What Are the Causes of Vaginal Infections?

There can be various causes associated with vaginal infections. The treatment is also based on the type of infection involved. Following are the various causes of vaginal infection:

1) Bacterial Infections:

The vagina consists of various normal commensal bacterias. They can turn into pathologic if the immune response of the body decreases or if these bacteria increase in number. Such a pathologic condition is called bacterial vaginosis.

2) Yeast Infections:

The main causative organism for fungal infections is Candida albicans. Various conditions may lead to a decrease in the antifungal bacterias in the vagina, and this may lead to an increase in several fungi in the vagina, which can lead to infection.

3) Trichomoniasis:

This type of vaginal infection is caused due to a protozoan parasite which is mainly contracted via sexual intercourse.

4) Vaginal Atrophy:

This is most commonly seen in women after menopause but can be witnessed during other scenarios like a decrease in estrogen levels, breastfeeding, etc. A reduction in hormone levels can lead to thickening in the vagina along with dryness which can cause inflammation in the vagina.

5) Irritants:

Various agents like soaps, perfumes, body washes, and vaginal contraceptives can lead to vaginal irritation, which can lead to inflammation. Some other causes include tight-fitting clothes, which can lead to the development of heat rashes and can irritate the vagina.

6) Infections Caused Due to Chlamydia:

It is the most commonly occurring sexually transmitted infection (STI) in women and usually affects those between 18 to 35 years and having multiple sexual partners.

7) Gonorrhea:

It is another STI that more commonly spreads through sex. It is often accompanied by Chlamydia in patients.

8) Viral Vaginitis:

It is vaginal inflammation or infection caused due to various viruses like Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV) or Human Papillomavirus (HPV) and spread through sex. Warts or sores present in these conditions can be very painful.

There are certain conditions where the physician may not determine the actual cause of the infection. It is known as nonspecific vulvovaginitis. This can develop in any woman irrespective of age, but more commonly, involvement is observed in young girls who have not attained puberty.

How Can Vaginal Infections Be Diagnosed?

When you visit your doctor, you will be asked about your personal history, medical history, and the signs and symptoms you are facing. Questions related to your sex health will also be asked like several partners, history of previous infections, etc.

Following this, a pelvic examination may be performed. The vaginal discharge may be collected by the doctor for further laboratory testing. This will help in the assessment of the cause and the type of treatment required, especially the choice of antibiotics.

How Can Vaginal Infections Be Treated?

As mentioned earlier, the treatment depends on the cause of the infection. Following medications can be prescribed:

If the cause of vaginal irritation or inflammation is an external irritant like soap, creams, etc., you can stop using the product or use an alternative to minimize the irritation.

What Are the Ways to Prevent Vaginal Infection?

Prevention of all vaginal infections is not practically possible. One way of preventing vaginal infections due to sexually transmitted diseases (STD) is the use of condoms. Secondly, maintaining proper personal hygiene is very important. Wash your private area with lukewarm water and mild unscented soaps.

Usage of cotton underwear or pantyhose with a cotton crotch can help in preventing vaginal infections. Also, I prefer wearing loose clothes and keeping the area breathable. Avoid douching as it may lead to a disturbance in the ecosystem of the vagina and may also spread these infections deeper into the reproductive tract of females.

Conclusion:

Vaginal infections can be caused due to various causes, and the treatment depends on the type of infection. It is important to consult a physician when you have discomfort in the vagina, or you face any of the symptoms mentioned in this article. Consulting a physician or a specialist has become practical and easy with the birth of online medical platforms. To know more about vaginal infections, causes, symptoms, management, and prevention, consult a specialist online.

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Last reviewed at:
24 Jun 2021  -  4 min read

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