|What Is Vaginitis?
Vaginitis literally means inflammation of the vagina (image). Most doctors use the term to specifically describe an inflammation that causes burning and itching of the vulva (the loose skin around the vagina) which is often accompanied by a strong smelling vaginal discharge. It is usually caused by an infection or a poor diet. While it is normal for healthy women to produce some vaginal discharge (which varies in consistency and quantity depending on the time of the menstrual cycle), a healthy discharge does not smell or cause itching and irritation.
Healthy non-vaginitis discharge also typically increases towards ovulation where it becomes clearer and egg-white. It may also increase during pregnancy, stress or after birth control pills have been discontinued. This is all quite normal and not necessarily an indication of infection. Vaginitis effects women of all ages and is very common. It is also known as vulvovaginitis.
Different types of vaginitis produce different symptoms, but the following is a list of the most common signs:
Vaginitis Causes: Vaginitis occurs when something happens to upset the balance of microorganisms in the vagina. This could be caused by an infection or eating too many sugary foods. The vagina houses a delicate ecosystem of helpful bacteria called lactobacilli which keep the growth of any harmful microorganisms down. In turn this keeps the pH levels of the vagina balanced and inhospitable to fungus, bacteria and protozoa (one-celled organisms). Mostly this delicate balance is upset when foreign bacteria or parasites find their way into the vagina. This reduces the vagina's defenses and allows the 'bad' microorganisms to grow out of control. But other factors can disturb the balance and these include: bad diet, the overuse of antibiotics, taking oral contraceptives or medications used to decrease estrogen levels, douching, pregnancy and the body being run down after an illness. See also causes of yeast infections.
Other causes of vaginitis include:
1. Allergic reaction to many substances including perfumed soaps, tampons or synthetic fabrics.
Below is a list of the most common types of vaginitis. It is important to note that more than one infection can occur at the same time.
Vaginitis diagnosis: As symptoms are very similar, it can be difficult to differentiate between the types of vaginitis. One problem is that the 3 most common types have over-lapping symptoms. To further confuse matters, some women have unusual symptoms while others experience none at all. Vaginitis can cause serious distress, particularly if it is persistent or recurring. Unfortunately doctors are prone to treating the condition as relatively trivial. This can lead to a quick diagnosis as soon a woman mentions vaginal discharge and itching. This can be frustrating, because a yeast infection for example requires different treatment to a bacterial infection. Symptoms will persist or worsen if incorrectly treated. A doctor can easily obtain a correct diagnosis by carrying out a few simple clinical tests.
What is Recurrent Vaginitis?
Vaginitis treatment: Depending on the type of vaginitis diagnosed there are specific medications available. Sometimes it is necessary for a partner to also receive treatment. Some women choose to self-treat initially using over the counter remedies, including Betadine douches (ready-mixed douching liquids available in most pharmacies) and sitz baths. Some find quick relief with acidifying gels like Aci-Jel and non-prescription creams with corticosteroid. See also our article on yeast infections natural remedies.
Vaginitis prevention: Some basic health routines can certainly help prevent vaginitis and vulva irritation. These include:
• Eating a nutritious diet
| Other Useful Guides
Recommended Health Screenings For Women: List for all ages.
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