Vaginitis is an inflammation of the vagina. It often occurs together with inflammation of the vulva, known as vulvovaginitis.
Vaginitis is often the result of an infection with yeast, bacteria, or Trichomonas, but physical or chemical irritation of the area can also be the causes. Consequently, there are the following types of vaginits:
- bacterial vaginosis
- yeast infections, usually caused by the fungus Candida albicans
- trichomoniasis, a parasite
- non-infectuous vaginitis
Not all infections that cause vaginitis are sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), but some STDs cause vaginitis.
The common symptom of vaginitis is itching or pain due to the irritated vagina. Other symptoms are:
- vaginal discharge
- pain during sexual intercourse or urination
- vaginal odor
- light vaginal bleeding or spotting
Some women may not experience any symptoms.
The cause of vaginitis depends on the type.
- Bacterial vaginosis is the most common type of vaginitis. This condition results from an imbalance of the bacteria normally present in the vagina, when the “bad” bacteria outnumber the “good” bacteria. This can occur due to sexual activity (new sex partner, or multiple partners), but it can occur in women who have not had sexual contact. Gonorrhea and Chlamydia are also bacterial causes of vaginitis
- Yeast infections, such as Candida infection, are a common cause of vaginitis, which are not considered to be STD’s
- Trichomonas is a parasitic infection, transmitted through sexual contact.
- The causes of non-infectious causes of vaginitis include: douches, soaps, spermicides, or reduced estrogen levels
Poor hygiene is considered a cause of vaginitis in young girls when it comes to spreading of fecal bacteria from the anal area into the vagina.
The risk factors for vaginitis depend upon the type of vaginitis. These can be:
- sexual activity with multiple partners
- unprotected sexual intercourse
- hormonal changes
- intrauterine device for birth control
- wearing tight clothes
- oral contraceptives
Complications from vaginitis are not serious. They can arise in women with bacterial vaginitis or trichomoniasis, who can be more susceptible to acquiring HIV or other STD’s. In pregnant women, these two types of vaginitis may cause premature delivery and low birth weight.
Prevention of vaginitis is possible, applying the following measures:
- practice safe sex
- use latex condoms
- avoit baths, spas
- don’t douche
- don’t use scented pads or tampons
- wipe from front to back when using the toilet
- wear cotton underwear