Common Vaginal Infections
Vagina infections are common and almost every female in the world has been affected by some form of vaginal infection in her lifetime. The infection can be caused by various microorganisms like bacteria, virus, fungus, or parasite which might grow in the vagina or in the surrounding region. These infections can be treated very easily and quickly. It is important to initiate treatment as soon as an infection is detected to prevent other complications.
Some common symptoms of vaginal infection are white vaginal discharge which may be white, green, or yellow in colour with a peculiar odour, soreness and itching in and around the vaginal region, dyspareunia (pain during intercourse), dysuria (pain during urination), intermenstrual bleeding, formation of ulcers or warts around the vulval region are some of the common manifestations. Some form of vaginal discharge which is colourless, odourless coma and does not irritate all lead to itching around the vaginal region normal. The amount and colour of vaginal discharge may vary according to the time of menstrual cycle and age.
Products like soaps, body washes, vaginal douches can lead to changes in the pH level of vagina which might cause vaginal discharge.
Diagnosis can be formed by examination conducted externally, looking for signs of inflammation and discharge around the vagina. A per vaginal or per speculum examination may be required in certain cases to view the interior. Vaginal swab can help in getting a clearer picture of the infection. A urine sample can often suggest probability of a spreading infection from the urinary tract to the vagina.
Some common infections of the vagina are as follows
Bacterial vaginosis, this is caused by an uncontrolled growth of a particular type of bacteria. It often remains asymptomatic and continues to be undiagnosed in many females. Some common symptoms are whitish vaginal discharge which is usually foul smelling, with itching and irritation. It is not a sexually transmitted infection, but a recent change in partner can increase the risk. Other important factors that can lead to this infection or increase the risk are using sprays, vaginal douching, inserting IUDs, using perfumes, and smoking. The infection is treated with the help of antibiotics. Some cases might require local application of gel or cream. It can lead to some complications if left untreated for a long period of time and interfere with pregnancy leading to frequent miscarriages, preterm labour or pelvic inflammatory disease.
Another common bacterial infection is Chlamydia. It is a sexually transmitted infection caused by chlamydia trachomatis. Most of the patients having Chlamydia infection remain asymptomatic. Those presenting with symptoms can have some form of vaginal discharge, bleeding, bleeding and pain during intercourse and urination. Chlamydia is treated with antibiotics. In this case, diagnosis and treatment of the partner is also important. A patient may be advised to take a re- examination within 3 to 6 months of completing the course of treatment to check if the patient has been free from infection completely or there are chances of a re- infection. It can lead to complications like pelvic inflammatory disease and might lead to preterm birth.
Genital herpes is caused by herpes simplex virus. It is a sexually transmitted infection, not everybody affected with this condition has symptoms, but if present, it usually leads to painful blister formation around the genitals. The patient might develop fever, headache and a general feeling of sickness. Once infected, the virus remains in the body, there is no cure for the condition. The symptoms are not evident all the time and subside for a certain period of time just to recur later on. Any factor that leads to triggering of the virus can flare up the inspection; stress, smoking, illness, and alcohol may become cause o flaring up of the infection. Antivirus can be taken, but the infection will not get eradicated completely from the body. Medicines can be given to control the symptoms and reduce the number of flair ups and complications.
Genital warts are also sexually transmitted diseases caused by human papilloma virus. It presents as small growth in the vulval, cervical, vaginal and anal region. The warts can be itchy and may have painful bleeding. They may subside on their own within a few months. Creams, ointment, cryotherapy, or electrocautery can be done to treat the warts. The infection, however, remains in the body.
Gonorrhea is caused by the bacteria Neisseria gonorrhoeae. This is a sexually transmitted infection. Almost 50% of the women affected with Gonorrhea do not develop any symptoms. In case one presents with symptoms, they usually appear within the first 10 days of being infected. Amount of vaginal discharge in Gonorrhea is usually higher than normal, pain and discomfort around the lower abdomen, pain during urination and intermenstrual spotting can be common in this condition. Treatment usually consists of antibiotics. Re-examination may be advised after a week of finishing the treatment to ensure that the infection has cured completely. As the condition spreads through sexual contact it is important to inform the current or recent sexual partner about it who may be required to be tested and treated accordingly.
Vaginal thrush, also called as, Candidiasis is caused by candida albicans. Most of the women wo have this condition are asymptomatic. Some common symptoms are itching, irritation, and soreness around the vulva region. Thick cottage cheese like vaginal discharge is a common presentation of vaginal thrush. Pain during intercourse and urination are common. Common triggers for trash are usage of certain types of antibiotics, pregnancy, and diabetes. Certain types of soaps, shower gels, feminine sprays and washers, and wearing extremely tight undergarments can increase the chances of developing a thrush. This is not a sexually transmitted infection, but intercourse can act as a trigger for the condition. Fungal tablets, creams or pessaries may be advised for treatment of this infection.
Trichomoniasis is developed by a parasite called Trichomonas vaginalis. It is a sexually transmitted infection. Symptoms can be yellow coloured frothy discharge, with a foul smell. Itching and soreness are common in this condition. Antibiotics are usually the preferred line of treatment. Partners need to be treated even if they remain asymptomatic to prevent chances of re- infection.
Prevention strategies include using condoms to prevent spread of infection from one person to another, avoiding strong soaps, feminine hygiene products, washing of vagina too aggressively can lead to disruption of the normal flora of the vagina and hence make it more prone to infections.