Vaginitis is an infection of the vagina caused by different organisms, such as bacteria, yeast, or viruses, or by irritations from chemicals or sprays.
Vaginitis can also affect the vulva, which is the external part of a woman's genitals.
Vaginitis can cause itching, pain, discharge, and odor and it's is common, especially in women in their reproductive years.
Symptoms of of vaginitis:
The symptoms of vaginitis can vary depending on the type of vaginitis you have.
⦁ Itching: This is the most common symptom of vaginitis. Itching, burning, and pain in the vulva or vagina.
The itching can be mild or severe, and it may be worse in the vulva or vagina.
⦁ Discharge: The discharge from the vagina can be different depending on the type of vaginitis you have. For example, bacterial vaginosis (BV) can cause a thin, grayish-white discharge with a fishy odor. Yeast infections can cause a thick, white discharge that resembles cottage cheese.
⦁ Bleeding or spotting from the vagina.
⦁ Pain: Pain during sex or urination can be a symptom of vaginitis.
⦁ Swelling: The vulva or vagina may be swollen or red.
⦁ Odor: The vagina may have a foul odor, fishy or strong odor especially after sex.
The types and causes of vaginitis:
There are different types of vaginitis, and they have different causes, symptoms, and treatments.
⦁ Bacterial vaginosis (BV): This is caused by an overgrowth of bacteria in the vagina. It is the most common type of vaginitis, affecting up to 30% of women at some point in their lives. BV is often characterized by a thin, white or gray discharge with a fishy odor.
⦁ Chlamydia or gonorrhea: These are also types of STIs caused by bacteria that can infect the vagina, cervix, uterus, fallopian tubes, or ovaries. They can cause discharge, bleeding, pain, or burning during urination or sex. They can also cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which can lead to infertility or ectopic pregnancy
⦁ Candida or Yeast infection: This is caused by an overgrowth of the fungus candida albicans. Yeast infections are the second most common type of vaginitis, affecting up to 75% of women at some point in their lives. Yeast infections are often characterized by a thick, white discharge with a cottage cheese-like consistency.
⦁ Viral vaginitis: This is caused by viruses that can infect the vagina, such as herpes simplex virus (HSV) or human papillomavirus (HPV). They can cause blisters, warts, or ulcers on the vulva or vagina, as well as pain, itching, or burning. They can also increase the risk of developing cervical cancer.
⦁ Trichomoniasis: This is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by the parasite trichomonas vaginalis. Trichomoniasis is characterized by a frothy, yellow-green discharge with a strong odor.
⦁ Atrophic vaginitis. This is caused by low estrogen levels after menopause or other conditions that affect the hormones. It can make the vaginal lining thinner and drier, which can lead to inflammation and irritation. It can also cause discharge, bleeding, pain, or itching of the vulva or vagina.
⦁ Noninfectious vaginitis: This type of vaginitis is not caused by an infection. This is caused by irritations from chemicals or allergens that come in contact with the vagina, such as douches, sprays, soaps, detergents, perfumes, or fabrics. They can cause redness, swelling, itching, or burning of the vulva or vagina.
How to prevent vaginitis?
⦁ Wear loose-fitting, cotton underwear.
⦁ Avoid using scented soaps, detergents, douches or feminine hygiene products .
⦁ Pee after sex.
⦁ Wash your hands before and after touching the genitals.
⦁ If you have a new sexual partner, use a condom.