Vaginitis is when the vaginal walls become infected or inflamed after exposure to irritating chemicals, sprays, creams, viruses, or bacteria. Women are susceptible to vaginitis at any age, and at least 33% of them will have to deal with vaginitis at some point in their lives.
About the Causes of Vaginitis
You could get vaginitis from applying the wrong clothing, medicine, or personal hygiene over your vaginal area. But for many women, their vaginitis comes from having sex with an unhealthy partner after prolonged skin-to-skin contact.
The different kinds of vaginitis are yeast infection (candida), bacterial vaginosis, viral vaginitis, trichomoniasis vaginitis, and noninfectious vaginitis. Your primary care physician can diagnose the cause and type of vaginitis you may have after one or more examinations and screenings.
If you experience vaginal discharge, it may be due to other health issues like chlamydia or gonorrhea. Only a doctor can determine the cause and recommend the best remedy for vaginal discharge. It is critical to seek medical treatment as quickly as possible because untreated vaginal discharge could progress into something worse, like pelvic inflammatory disease.
Pelvic inflammatory disease increases women’s chances of developing pelvic scarring, ectopic pregnancy, infertility, and chronic pelvic pain. That is why you should seek a diagnosis of the cause of your vaginal discharge after first noticing it.
What is a Yeast Infection?
A yeast infection is type of fungal infection caused by a fungus species called candida. Women naturally have small amounts of candida in their vagina, digestive tract, and mouth. As long as a healthy balance of candida remains in the vagina, everything will be fine. However, a yeast infection occurs if there is a disruption to the natural healthy balance of candida in the vagina.
A common cause of such a candida imbalance is when a woman consumes antibiotic medication to eliminate another type of infection in the body. Since antibiotics destroy bacteria, they can also destroy the good bacteria that stabilize the candida balance in the vagina. Other causes of candida imbalance include diabetes, pregnancy, and a poor immune system.
As a result, a yeast infection occurs because of candida overgrowth in the vagina.
Yeast Infection Symptoms
Some of the apparent symptoms resulting from a yeast infection are as follows:
- Sex causes vaginal pain
- Urination causes vaginal pain
- Itchiness in the vagina or vulva
- Redness in the vagina or vulva
- Vaginal discharge appears watery, thick, and white (resembling cottage cheese)
Of course, these symptoms could also result from another health condition besides a vaginal yeast infection. The best thing to do is speak with your primary care physician for an examination and diagnosis. Then you will know whether your symptoms are from a yeast infection or something else.
What Increases the Risk of Getting a Yeast Infection?
Women of any age are susceptible to yeast infections. They can occur due to antibiotics, pregnancy, untreated diabetes, HIV, immunosuppressant medication, high-estrogen contraceptives, or corticosteroid therapy.
If you have one or more of these risk factors, it is best to receive regular health monitoring and pelvic and physical examinations from your doctor. They can even study a sample of your vaginal discharge to give you a more accurate diagnosis of the cause. Then your doctor can recommend the most effective treatment based on the diagnosis.
How Do You Treat a Vaginal Yeast Infection?
Doctors typically prescribe vaginal tablets, antifungal vaginal creams, or oral antifungal medicines to help treat the symptoms of a vaginal yeast infection. Eventually, the yeast infection will go away after enough of the candida is destroyed.
Overview of Bacterial Vaginosis
Younger women in their childbearing years usually experience vaginal discharge because of bacterial vaginosis or BV. Since their pregnancy causes a bacterial imbalance in the vagina, more harmful bacteria grow in place of the good bacteria in the vagina.
The two primary symptoms of bacteria vaginosis are a fishy vaginal smell and thin vaginal discharge. But to ensure these symptoms aren’t the result of another health condition, it would be wise to consult your doctor to verify that bacterial vaginosis is the cause.
Your doctor will prescribe you antibiotics if they have diagnosed you with bacterial vaginosis.
Overview of Trichomoniasis
Trichomoniasis is a sexually transmitted infection from a one-celled parasite (Trichomonas vaginalis) that invades your body during sexual intercourse with an infected partner.
Men with trichomoniasis don’t usually know they have the infection because they don’t typically experience symptoms. But when an infected man transmits the parasite to their female partner during sex, the woman will eventually experience vaginitis symptoms. That’ll finally motivate her to see her doctor for a diagnosis and treatment.
The symptoms of trichomoniasis are as follows:
- Sex causes vaginal pain
- Lower abdomen discomfort
- Urination causes a burning sensation
- Minor vaginal bleeding after sex
- The vaginal opening has redness and swelling
- The vulva and vagina have burning or itching
- Vaginal discharge appears greenish-yellow and smells musty
However, it is possible for a woman not to experience any symptoms from having trichomoniasis. It is also possible for these symptoms to occur because of other health conditions.
Therefore, make an appointment to see your doctor for a complete physical examination and diagnosis of your problem. Your doctor will likely prescribe oral antibiotics to treat trichomoniasis. Also, your sexual partner (or partners) should receive physical examinations and treatment if you wish to prevent reinfection.
Overview of Viral Vaginitis
Viral vaginitis is an inflammatory vaginal condition commonly resulting from a sexually transmitted virus, such as herpes. You may experience symptoms like pain and visible sores and lesions in your genital area, such as your vagina or vulva. The sores can also form inside your vagina, which are discoverable during a pelvic examination. The symptoms may intensify when feeling stress and anxiety.
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is another sexually transmitted virus that causes viral vaginitis. The common symptoms of HPV are painful warts on the rectum, groin, vagina, or vulva. However, sometimes the warts are not visible, so you’ll need to see your doctor for HPV screening and a pap test to verify your HPV.
It is crucial to know whether you have HPV because some women develop cervical cancer from it. If your doctor diagnoses you with HPV, they can immediately treat you to control the symptoms. But if you don’t have HPV, your doctor will recommend you receive an HPV vaccine to prevent a possible future HPV infection that could result in cervical cancer. The latest HPV vaccines are highly effective at preventing genital warts and cancers. AHCC can also be used an effective supplement to support your body’s immune function to fight HPV.
Overview of Noninfectious Vaginitis
Noninfectious vaginitis is when you experience vaginal irritation or pain without having a viral infection. The common causes of noninfectious vaginitis are as follows:
- Vaginal sprays
- Spermicidal products
- Fabric softeners
- Perfumed soaps
You may have a sensitivity or allergic reaction to one or more ingredients in these products, which would explain the irritation. Noninfectious vaginitis can also result from decreased hormone production due to ovary removal surgery, radiation therapy, menopause, or childbirth.
The typical vaginal irritations from noninfectious vaginitis are vaginal itching, burning, discharge, and pelvic pain. But you could have a different condition causing these symptoms as well. That is why you should always see your doctor whenever you experience unusual vaginal irritations and symptoms.
Your doctor can recommend a suitable treatment based on the cause of the noninfectious vaginitis. But if the symptoms are due to an irritating product, then all you have to do is stop using the product. Then you should see the problem go away.