What Is Vaginitis?
Vaginal inflammation is referred to as vaginitis. It’s caused by an imbalance of yeast and bacteria in the vaginal area.
Along with the discomfort, you may sense a different-than-usual odour. Bacteria, yeast, or viruses might be the source of your infection. Chemicals in soaps, sprays, and even clothing that come into touch with this region may irritate the skin and tissues.
However, figuring out what’s going on isn’t always simple. You’ll almost probably need your doctor’s advice to figure it out and decide on the best course of action.
Types and Causes of Vaginitis
The various conditions that cause an infection or inflammation of the vagina are referred to as “vaginitis" by doctors. The following are the most prevalent types:
- Bacterial vaginosis, is a vaginal inflammation caused by a bacterial overgrowth. It usually gives off a strong fishy stench.
- Candida or “yeast" infection, is caused by an excess of the fungus Candida, which is ordinarily present in small amounts in the vaginal area.
- Chlamydia is the most prevalent sexually transmitted infection (STI) in women, especially those who have several sexual partners and are between the ages of 18 and 35.
- Gonorrhea is another common infection spread through sex. It often comes along with chlamydia.
- Trichomoniasis is a parasitic infection transmitted via sex. It increases your chances of contracting additional 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.
Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) have subtle symptoms. If you’re sexually active (particularly if you have several partners), you should discuss having them tested at your yearly appointment with your doctor.
Some of them might permanently damage your reproductive organs or trigger other health issues if left untreated. You could also pass them to a partner.
Itching, burning, and even discharge may occur even when there is no infection (noninfectious vaginitis). It’s usually an allergic response to, or irritation from, such as:
- Fabric softeners
- Perfumed soaps
- Vaginal sprays
It could also be due to a drop in hormone levels caused by menopause or the removal of your ovaries. Atrophic vaginitis is a condition when your vagina becomes dry. It’s possible that sexual intercourse could be painful, and you’ll have itching and burning in your vaginal area.
Even for an experienced doctor, a diagnosis might be tricky despite the fact that they have distinct symptoms. One of the issues is that you may have many of them at the same time.
You could potentially be infected without showing any signs or symptoms.
Yeast infection vs. bacterial vaginosis
The organisms that dwell in your vagina are two of the most prevalent causes of vaginitis. Symptoms are often extremely similar. Yeast infections are caused by an overgrowth of the yeast that usually exists in your body. Bacterial vaginosis occurs when the bacteria equilibrium is disrupted. You may detect a white or greyish discharge in both cases.
What distinguishes them? Bacterial vaginosis is a better guess if there’s a fishy odour. If your discharge resembles cottage cheese, you may have a yeast infection. Itching and burning are more probable as a result of this, while bacterial vaginosis may also make you itchy.
Both of these things are possible to have at the same time.
The discharge from a woman’s vagina is normally clear or slightly cloudy. It’s partly due to the vaginal cleaning process.
It doesn’t have a strong odour or cause itching. During your menstrual cycle, the amount of it and how it looks and feels like might vary. You may have just a small amount of a very thin or watery discharge at one time of the month, but it thickens and there is more of it at another time of the month. That’s all very acceptable.
It’s most likely an issue if your discharge has a strong odour, burns, or itches. You may have irritation at any time of day, although it is more common at night. Some symptoms may be exacerbated by having sex.
You should contact your doctor if you have any of the following symptoms:
- Your vaginal discharge has changed colour, has become thicker, or has a strange odour.
- Itching, burning, swelling, or pain around or outside your vagina are all signs that something is wrong.
- When you pee, it burns.
- Sex is uncomfortable.
Getting the appropriate diagnosis is crucial to treating vaginal infections.
Keep track of whatever symptoms you’re experiencing and when they occur. Prepare to describe the discharge’s colour, texture, smell, and volume. Do not douche before going to the doctor’s office or clinic; it will make proper testing difficult or impossible. Some doctors may advise you to refrain from having sexual activity during the 24 to 48 hours leading up to your consultation.
Even if you’re very certain you know what you have, it’s best to contact your doctor before using over-the-counter medications.
Noninfectious vaginitis is treated by addressing the probable cause. Think about what products you’re using that can irritate your sensitive skin. To alleviate the symptoms of hormonal shifts, your doctor may prescribe oestrogen.
Keep yourself clean and dry. Vaginal sprays and heavily perfumed soaps are not recommended for this area, according to doctors. Douching may cause irritation, too, and, more importantly, it may conceal or spread an infection. It also gets rid of the healthy bacteria that do the housekeeping in your vagina.. Duching is not a good idea.
Clothing that retains heat and moisture should be avoided. Yeast infections may be caused by nylon underwear, tight jeans, sweaty gym shorts and leggings, and pantyhose without a cotton strip.
Consuming yoghurt with active cultures (look for it on the label) may help you avoid more infections.
Condoms are the most effective technique to prevent infections from spreading between sexual partners.
Every year, have a full gynecologic checkup, including a Pap smear if your doctor advises it.
- National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases: “Vaginitis."
- Office of Women’s Health: “Sexually Transmitted Infections," “Bacterial Vaginosis," “Vaginal Yeast Infection."
- American Academy of Family Physicians: “Vaginal Discharge."
- The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists: “Vaginitis."
- Hall Health Center, University of Washington: “Yeast Infections."
- Planned Parenthood: “Yeast Infection & Vaginitis."
- American Family Physician: “Diagnosis of Vaginitis.”
- Cleveland Clinic: “Vaginitis.”
- The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists: “Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, and Syphilis.”