Vaginitis is the inflammation of the vagina, which can result in unusual vaginal discharge, itching, and pain. The cause of vaginitis is usually a change in the optimum balance of vaginal bacteria or vaginal infection. Some skin disorders and lower estrogen levels after menopause can also cause vaginitis.
Symptoms of Vaginitis
Vaginitis can affect a female or a girl at any age. Vaginitis usually begins suddenly, and the symptoms are often mild and irregular, making self-diagnosis difficult. The effects of vaginitis are usually troubling and uncomfortable and can be painful as well.
Most common types of vaginitis include:
- Bacterial vaginosis- Bacterial vaginosis or BV is caused due to a change of the normal bacteria which is naturally found in the vagina.
- Yeast infections- Vaginal yeast infections are usually caused by a naturally occurring fungus known as Candida albicans.
- Trichomoniasis- Trichomoniasis is caused due to a parasite and can be transmitted sexually, making it an STI.
If untreated, vaginitis can cause complications, longer treatment, and delayed recovery. It is best to get the treatment started as soon as you are diagnosed with vaginitis.
If you notice any signs or symptoms of vaginitis, schedule an appointment with your gynecologist. Common signs and symptoms of vaginitis include-
- Vaginal itching
- Unusual vaginal discharge
- Foul, smiley vaginal odor
- Feeling soreness and tenderness in the vagina or vulva
- Vaginal irritation, which is temporarily relieved after a bath or washing the area
- Vaginal or vulvar pain
- Redness or bleeding from the vagina
- Swelling, tenderness, or bleeding from the labia
- Urinary urgency
- Frequent urination
- Burning sensation with urination (dysuria)
- Pain, soreness, or bleeding during or after sex
Many factors can cause an infection in the vagina and vulva leading to vaginitis. As discussed earlier, the most common cause of vaginitis is bacteria. However, other factors that can cause vaginitis include-
- Bacterial vaginosis– This most common cause of vaginitis is a change of the normal bacteria found in the vagina. Usually, the bacteria normally found in the vagina (known as lactobacilli) are outnumbered by other bacteria (known as anaerobes) in the vagina. If anaerobic bacteria increases than the lactobacilli, the vagina’s bacteria balance is upset, causing bacterial vaginosis. This type of vaginitis can be widely linked to sexual intercourse, especially in the case of females who have multiple sex partners, have a new sex partner, or frequently practice unsafe sex (without a condom). But, BV can also occur in females and young girls who are not sexually active.
- Yeast infections- An overgrowth of a fungal organism, commonly C. Albicans, in the vagina can cause yeast infections.
- Trichomoniasis- This is a common STI and is caused by a microscopic parasite known as Trichomonas Vaginalis. This organism can spread through sexual intercourse. This infection can cause vaginal pain, discomfort, itching, and unusual, smelly vaginal discharge, which may be yellow, green, or gray in color.
- STIs including Chlamydia, gonorrhea, and herpes.
- Environmental factors- Lack of hygiene can make your intimates a good host for bacterias, making it more prone to infections. Tight clothing can cause friction by rubbing against the skin, causing irritation.
- Parasites- Certain parasites including pinworms, scabies, and lice can cause vaginitis.
- Chemicals- Some chemicals found in soaps, feminine washes, intimate perfume, and vaginal contraceptives can cause irritation and lead to vaginitis.
Who is at risk for vaginitis?
Any female can have vaginitis, at any age. However, some factors increase the risk of vaginitis, including-
- A recent course of antibiotics
- Uncontrolled diabetes
- Use of high-estrogen contraceptives
- Thyroid or endocrine disorder
- Ongoing corticosteroid therapy
Vaginitis is a common but unavoidable condition that can affect a female or a girl of all ages. Some types of vaginitis can be transferred sexually. So, practicing safe sex, using a condom, and limiting your sexual partner can minimize the risk.
If you notice any symptoms of vaginitis, visit or consult your gynecologist for an accurate diagnosis followed by a dose of medications needed to treat the condition in time.
Also Read- What are Vaginal Infection?