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What is Vaginitis?
Vaginitis is an infection or inflammation of the vagina that can cause itching, burning, a change in vaginal discharge, and pain during sex.
Types of Vaginitis
There are four particular forms of vaginitis. Each form will exhibit similar symptoms but the cause will depend on the exact type of vaginitis. The four types include:
- Yeast Infections
- Bacterial Vaginosis
- Atrophic Vaginitis
Yeast infections are very common and occur when yeast cells in the vagina multiply and take over. Typically, yeast infections are caused by irregular vaginal activity such as hormone therapy treatments or even antibiotics. Other health conditions like diabetes or HIV can also lead to a yeast infection.
Bacterial vaginosis is caused by a rapid multiplication of bacteria in the vagina. This bacteria normally exists in the vagina, but when it multiplies very quickly it can lead to worsening symptoms. It is unclear as to what can cause bacterial vaginosis, but experts believe that having multiple sex partners, having a sexually transmitted infection, using an IUD, and douching can all lead to the development of this illness.
Trichomoniasis is a sexually transmitted infection that is caused by a parasite. This parasite is spread during intercourse with an individual who is already infected with trichomoniasis.
Atrophic vaginitis is usually seen in women who are experiencing menopause or by those who have undergone surgery to remove their ovaries because this type of vaginitis is directly related to the sudden reduction of estrogen. Atrophic vaginitis will lead the tissues of the vagina to begin thinning and losing moisture, which often causes irritation.
Despite the many forms of vaginitis, their symptoms remain relatively the same to one another. Common symptoms of vaginitis include the following:
- Vaginal odor
- Redness, swelling, or itching of the vagina
- Light bleeding or spotting
- A change in the coloring of your vaginal discharge such as grey, green, or yellow discharge
- Pain during sex
- Painful urination
The degree of severity surrounding vaginitis depends heavily on your previous experience with different forms of vaginitis. It is not always necessary to consult your doctor about vaginitis, especially if you recognize the signs and symptoms of a yeast infection, have been previously diagnosed with one before, and you are not pregnant. In this case it is best to seek relief with an over-the-counter treatment.
More concerning cases of vaginitis include the following symptoms, for which you should certainly seek advice and care from your gynecologist:
- You have never had a vaginal infection before
- You have had multiple sex partners or a new partner that may have given you a sexually transmitted infection, which will often show symptoms similar to vaginitis
- You have a fever, chills, or pelvic pain
- You have completed an over-the-counter treatment but your symptoms persist or worsen
Treatment for vaginitis depends on the particular type of vaginitis that you are diagnosed with.
As previously stated, yeast infections are often treated using over-the-counter medications. However, more serious cases will require a stronger form of medication that can only be acquired with a prescription such as antifungal cream, suppository, or antifungal tablets.
Both bacterial vaginosis and trichomoniasis are typically treated using antibiotics prescribed by your doctor. In the case of trichomoniasis it is especially important that both you and your sexual partner receive treatment.
Atrophic vaginitis is often treated using estrogen tablets or creams. There are several different types available, so it is important that you and your doctor decide together which one will be right for you.
There are several ways in which you can reduce your risk of becoming infected with vaginitis. Best practices for vaginitis prevention include:
- Not douching
- Not using feminine deodorant sprays or perfumed products near your vagina
- Changing your tampon at least 3 times a day during your menstrual cycle with no more than 8 hours between changes
- Not taking antibiotics unless absolutely necessary
- Use a condom during sex
- Limit your number of sexual partners
More From Atlanta Women’s Obstetrics & Gynecology
If you would like to learn more about vaginitis, or to consult with a professional about your vaginitis concerns, please request an appointment with one of the exceptional OBGYN specialists from Atlanta Women’s Obstetrics & Gynecology today by calling our office at (404) 352-3616.