Women’s Reproductive Health: Things we need to know about Vaginitis

Women’s Reproductive Health: Things we need to know about Vaginitis

Vaginal infections or vaginitis are conditions that cause inflammation or infection of the vagina. Vulvovaginitis is the infection of both the vulva and vagina. These infections can cause unusual vaginal discharge and symptoms such as itchiness and soreness of vulva and vagina. Vaginitis is so common that every woman experiences it at some point.

What disrupts the Normal Ecosystem of Vagina?

A healthy and normal surrounding of the vagina contains bacteria and sometimes yeast which doesn’t harm it by causing any infection. But certain triggers can enable yeast and bacterial overgrowth thereby disrupting the vaginal environment and causing symptoms like:

  • Cleaning or douching the vagina with some liquid or water
  • Vaginal sex
  • Changes in female hormonal levels 
  • Pregnancy and breastfeeding
  • Usage of antibiotics

Types of vaginal infections:

  • Bacterial infections: It usually causes pale or grayish-white discharge. This discharge produces an odor that smells like fish and can be easily detected after sex.
  • Yeast infections: It produces irritation and itching in the vagina. A fungus called Candida albicans causes this yeast infection. It produces a white and thick discharge.
  • Trichomoniasis: A protozoan parasite this vaginal infection and produces vaginal odor and itching. A frothy and greenish-yellow discharge is common in this infection.
  • Vaginal Atrophy: This condition usually happens after menopause. During other times such as breastfeeding estrogen levels decline, which can develop this infection. Vaginal dryness and thinning reduce hormone levels leading to vaginal inflammation.
  • Irritants: soaps, perfumes, body washes, and vaginal contraceptives such as intrauterine devices (IUDs) vaginal sponges, pessaries and diaphragms can cause inflammation and irritation in the vagina. Tight-fitting clothes also irritate the vagina by causing heat rashes.

The other types are caused by allergies or reactions, Gonorrhea and Chlamydia. These types have different conditions and symptoms that even for an experienced doctor diagnosis can be complex. And adding to the problem, sometimes you could have more than one infection.

Treating vaginal infections:

First of all, getting the right diagnosis is the key to effectively treat vaginal infections. Be very attentive to exactly which symptoms you get and when. 

Specifically, for yeast infections use over-the-counter medication. Three options of courses that are one-day, three-day or seven-day of cream or vaginal suppositories are available. Depending on the product the active ingredient differs i.e. tioconazole (Vagistat-1), clotrimazole and miconazole (Monistat 1). You can also order these medical products online. But if this is your first vaginal infection ask your doctor before this before self-treatment with medications. An external cream also comes with these products sometimes to apply to the opening of the vagina and labia. Consult your doctor if your condition persists more than 7 days and does not get better after 3 days. 

Prevention includes:

  • Not using fragranced pads and tampons, scented products of “feminine hygiene” products and vaginal deodorants. 
  • Not douching as douching disturbs the natural ecosystem of the vagina by washing away the healthy and good stuff in your vagina. And douching can make an infection worse if you already suffering from it.
  • Wearing less breathable fabrics also activates irritation and inflammation in some women. Wearing pantyhose with a cotton crotch and cotton underwear when possible can lessen the risk of developing vaginal irritation and inflammation. 

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