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Millions of women experience vaginitis every year. There are a few different types of vaginitis, some of which are caused by bacterial infection (about 40-50 percent), some caused by yeast infections (20-30 percent) and others by trichomoniasis parasites (15-20 percent). Certain conditions, medications and actions a woman takes can increase her chances of infection. Here is a list of the general causes of vaginitis:
Most experts agree that a yeast infection is one of the most common causes of vaginitis. In particular an infection caused by Candida albicans a sort of yeast which is naturally present in warm creases of the vagina, digestive tract and skin. When our immune system is healthy these organisms are kept in check by healthy bacteria called bifidobacterium bifidum and lactobacillus acidophilus. Sometimes our delicate ecosystem can become unbalanced and the Candida albicans multiple rapidly causing a yeast infection. Some studies suggest that 65 percent of women who self-diagnosis a yeast infection are incorrect. This can lead to incorrect treatment and frustration when the infection persists. For this reason, a correct vaginitis diagnosis is important.
Many antibiotics are prescribed needlessly, even for people with colds and flu’s – for which they have no effect. Antibiotics tend to kill off all the good bacteria (as well as the bad ones they are targeting). This upsets the body’s natural balance, allowing other microorganisms like Candida albicans to multiple. Antibiotics are often fed to chickens and other animals we eat, which means we can ingest them without realizing it. Other drugs which can stimulate a yeast infection include those that contain cortisone, especially those taken by mouth or injection or when sprayed into the respiratory tract. See Vaginitis treatment.
An over indulgence of sugar can lead to increased risk of yeast infection. In the 1800s the average American consumed about 4 pounds of sugar a year. According to the American Heart Association (AAH), between 2001 and 2004 the average American intake was 22.2 teaspoons a day (about 70-80 pounds a year). This was an increase of 17 percent since 1970. The AAH recommends the average daily intake of sugar should be no more than 6 teaspoons for women and 9 teaspoons for men. The main dietary culprits are soft drinks, candy, cookies, cakes and pies. See also Vaginitis Prevention.
Postmenopausal women typically experience a natural decline in estrogen production. This can lead to atrophic vaginitis (also known as senile vaginitis), a condition where the lining of the vagina thins, and cracks and becomes prone to infection. Women who take medications to reduce estrogen levels (for example, as treatment for endometriosis, breast cancer, infertility or fibroids) are also at risk.
Douching has been linked to bacterial vaginosis. In 2002 the University of Pittsburgh carried out a study on 1200 women and found that those who douched once a month experienced an increased occurrence of bacterial vaginosis. Those who douched within 7 days where at highest risk. However another study carried out by University of Milan in 2007 on 40 women with bacterial vaginosis showed that douching with a liquid containing a strain of lactobacillus acidophilus helped restore the natural pH balance of the vagina. To make an acidophilus douche add 2 teaspoons of acidophilus powder to one liter of water and douche once a day. It should not be used for more than 5 days or the vaginal walls can become irritated.
About one million women will experience bacterial vaginosis during pregnancy every year. The reasons are not clear, but it may have something to do with changes occurring in the body, and the body's defenses being weaker and prone to infection. Those with more sexual partners may be at increased risk. Some studies suggest a link between bacterial vaginosis and increased risk of pregnancy complications such as miscarriage, premature rupture of membranes and low birth weight. For this reason the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend all women who are expecting to be screened for the condition. After delivery and childbirth, any cuts or tears in the vagina should be cared for carefully to avoid the risk of a bacterial infection.
Trichomoniasis vaginitis is the third most common type of vaginitis. It is a common STD which usually affects women (but may also infect men in the urethra). It is caused by a single-celled parasite which is passed from an infected partner, but men usually only contract it from infected women.
As toxins in the environment and our food increase, more people are increasingly developing allergies. Common products which can aggravate the vaginal area and cause vaginitis include vaginal hygiene sprays, bubble baths, scented toilet paper and panty liners, fabric softeners and artificial fabrics. Sometimes a tampon or contraceptive diaphragm left in too long can cause symptoms.
Allergic Reaction to Partner's Seminal Fluid
Relatively rare, but some women may be sensitive to their partner's seminal fluid. A reaction will occur within minutes after love making, including soreness, itchiness and some stinging - both inside and around the vagina. Wearing a condom may help, although sensitivity to latex in condoms is even more common.
About 2 percent of people have psoriasis which is a common skin complaint that leads to redness, soreness and itchiness. Psoriasis can appear on any part of the body, including in or around the vulva area. If the skin cracks, or develops small cuts it can be open to infections.
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