The vagina is a muscular canal that runs from the cervix to the outside of the body. It is lined by a soft mucous membrane and has an average length of 6 to 7 inches. There is only one part of the vagina which is visible and that is the vaginal opening. Vaginitis is the inflammation of the vagina. It commonly is a result of an infection. The patient generally has symptoms such as discharge, itching, burning, and pain in the vaginal area. It is not an uncommon condition, and the majority of the women will have it at least once in their lifetime.
- Severe irritation and discomfort in the genital areas.
- A discharge which may be white, gray, in color and watery, or foamy in texture.
- Foul or fishy-smelling vaginal odor
- Inflammation in the vaginal area which causes redness and swelling of the labia majora, labia minora, and perineal area. This mainly happens due to excessive immune cells.
- Pain or discomfort at the time of urinating. This condition is medically termed as Dysuria.
- Pain during sexual intercourse. The condition is known as dyspareunia.
Infections such as candidiasis, bacterial vaginosis, and trichomoniasis are the common causes of vaginitis. After puberty, infectious vaginitis is as common as in 90 percent of cases. Apart from that, vaginitis can also be caused due to other diseases such as gonorrhea, Chlamydia, mycoplasma, herpes, campylobacter, some parasites, and poor hygiene.
Vaginitis can also occur before puberty. Before puberty, different types of bacteria may be involved if the girl is suffering from Vaginitis. “Streptococcus” is a common cause for vaginitis before or during puberty, but sometimes, because of improper hygiene practices, the bacteria can also spread from the anal area to the genitals. The spread of germs to the vagina from the anus, lack of estrogen, lack of pubic hair, and lack of labial fat pads can also increase the risk of getting vulvovaginitis before puberty. Vulvovaginitis is +the medical term for inflammation of both the vagina and vulva. It is common among women of all ages.
After puberty, infections in the vaginal area is often caused due to “Gardnerella”. Sometimes, vaginitis can originate from an allergic reaction caused due to condoms, spermicides, soaps, perfumes, douching, medications, lubricants, and semen. Irritation occurring due to a tampon can also cause vaginitis in some females.
Common Factors which increase the risk of Vaginitis are:
- Use of vaginal products, like sprays, intimate washes, spermicides, birth control devices such as IUD.
- Taking antibiotics.
- Wearing tight clothes or moist or damp underwear.
- Low estrogen levels, especially during menopause.
Also Read: RISK FACTORS OF BACTERIAL VAGINOSIS
Sexual intercourse is the most common way of transmission of vaginitis, but it is not the only way. Some medical advisers also believe that having multiple sexual partners increases the risk of getting bacterial vaginosis, which is a type of vaginitis. Moreover, having a female sexual partner increases the risk of getting bacterial vaginosis by 60 percent.
Many doctors and other health care professionals refer to yeast infections and bacterial infections sexually associated with each other. Individuals who are sexually active run at a high risk of catching such infections. However, such infections are not necessarily transmitted from one partner to another while sexual intercourse.
Antifungal or antibiotic medication prescribed after diagnosis can treat vaginitis. Treatment for the infection depends widely on the cause and condition of the female. The treatment may include the application of low-potency topical steroids, oral or topical antibiotics, anti-fungal or antibacterial creams, etc. Make sure to visit your gynecologist when you suspect symptoms of the disease. Take only medications prescribed by your gynecologist after the examination. Bacterial vaginitis is treated with antibiotics.
Practice the suggestions below to prevent vaginitis:
- Maintaining good overall hygiene.
- Using mild soaps without irritants or scents for intimate areas.
- Wearing comfortable, clean and dry cotton underwear and clothing.
- Avoid douching and irritating products, such as hygiene sprays, soaps, intimate washes, gels, and other feminine products.
- Wipe from front to back to prevent spreading bacteria from the anal opening to the vagina.
- Practicing sex with a condom.
It is common for most females to have Vaginitis at least once in their lifetime. This infection is rarely dangerous. Taking doctor prescribed antibiotics will help remove any infections and ease the inflammation and other symptoms caused due to it. Refraining from having sex and avoiding the use of vaginal products with potential irritants for a few days after diagnosis of the infection can help speed up the recovery.