Vaginitis is an umbrella term to define a group of conditions that cause inflammation and itching in the vagina. This inflammation can also extend to the vulva. There are different types of vaginitis, which include:
- Bacterial vaginosis – Your vagina includes certain levels of natural bacteria. This bacteria can, sometimes, overgrow upsetting the balance and leading to inflammation.
- Yeast infections – Yeast infections are highly common. They are caused by a naturally occurring fungus known as Candida albicans.
- Trichomoniasis – Trichomoniasis is an infection caused by a parasite. This is usually transmitted through sexual contact.
Vaginitis symptoms differ from type to type. This condition is usually identified by persistent inflammation and itching. Besides these, common vaginitis symptoms include:
- Abnormal vaginal discharge (Changes in the colour, smell or amount of discharge)
- Irritation and itching in the vagina
- Pain during sexual intercourse
- Pain during and after urination
- Vaginal bleeding or spotting
Primarily, vaginitis symptoms are used to help identify the type of infection. These symptoms vary in the abnormal discharge indicating the type.
Bacterial vaginosis – In this infection, you may experience a grey-tinted vaginal discharge which is foul-smelling (fishy odour).
Yeast infection – Yeast infection may cause a cottage cheese type of discharge that is thick white in texture.
Trichomoniasis – During trichomoniasis, you may experience a greenish-yellow discharge.
Vulvovaginitis causes are basically dependent on the type of vaginitis. There are several causes including:
- Changes in natural bacteria of the vagina
- Overgrowth of a fungal organism
- Due to a parasite caused by sexual transmission
- Allergic reactions caused by vaginal sprays, douches, perfumed soaps, scented detergents and spermicidal products
- Reduced estrogen levels after menopause
- Surgical removal of your ovaries
While every woman is prone to the development of vaginitis, some women are at a greater risk than others. Common risk factors include:
- Hormonal changes caused by pregnancy, birth control pills or menopause
- Unprotected sexual activity or intercourse
- Certain medications
- Uncontrolled diabetes
- Use of scented or cosmetic products
- Wearing tight-fitted clothes
- Use of IUD
The diagnosis of vaginitis is usually done when a woman appears for her general pelvic exam or when she presents with the above-given symptoms. There are several measures done to help diagnose vaginitis. Common methods include:
- Review of personal medical history
- Pelvic exam
- Sampling and testing of vaginal discharge
- pH testing
Vaginitis treatment is based on the type of infection and the causes of vaginitis. Your gynaecologist will devise a specialised treatment plan for you to treat the root cause of the problem.
The treatment protocol is also dependent on the findings of the investigations. Common treatment measures include:
- Hormone therapy
- Changes in lifestyle choices and hygiene habits