Vaginitis: Causes, Symptoms & Treatments

Vaginitis is an embarrassing problem which affects many women. It is advisable to get it checked by doctors for better and effective treatments.

Almost 75% of adult women have suffered from yeast infection at least once in their lifetime. About 30% of women from the childbearing age category have bacterial vaginosis (BV) just in the United States. Most of women will have experienced such condition at some point in their life. Caused due to many factors, vaginitis, including yeast infection, vaginosis, trichomoniasis, etc, is the inflammation of the vagina and results in excessive discharge, foul odor, irritation and itching.

Causes of Vaginitis

  1. Bacterial Overgrowth

Vagina normally contains good bacteria (lactobacillus) and bad bacteria (anaerobes). If the ratio of good bacteria falls down and the number of bad bacteria increases, it leads to bacterial vaginosis.

  1. Yeast Infections

Yeast or fungal infections can affect the moist parts of body, like mouth, skin folds, nail beds and vagina. It also causes diaper rash in babies. Typically a yeast infection occurs when the number of C. albicans – a fungal organism – grows in the vagina. It can be caused due to other fungal organisms as well.

  1. Sexual Intercourse

Vaginitis can be caused by sexually transmitted disease as well. One of the main type is called – Trichomoniasis, caused by a microscopic, one celled parasite known as trichomonas vaginalis. It gets transferred from infected individual during sexual activity. Urinary tract gets infected in men but it can remain relatively asymptomatic. By sexual intercourse, it affects the vagina in women and symptoms are seen.

  1. Allergy to Certain Products

Vaginitis can be caused due to allergic reaction to certain products like vaginal spray, douches, perfumed soaps, detergents and even spermicidal products. Certain substances in these products can irritate the vaginal lining, causing itching and burning of the vagina. Change in hormonal levels due to menopause, removal of ovaries can also cause thinning of vaginal lining, which will increase the risk of vaginitis.

Symptoms of Vaginitis

  • Change in color or odor of vaginal discharge. Depending on the type of infection, vaginal discharge will smell funky and of abnormal color.
  • Type

    Color

    Bacterial Vaginosis

    Grayish-white

    Yeast Infections

    White

    Trichomoniasis

    Greenish yellow

  • Pain During Intercourse or Urination. Due to the thinning of the vaginal walls, there might be pain caused due to friction during intercourse or urination.
  • Vaginal Itching or Burning. The urge to scratch due to itching or burning sensation even at rest may occur.

When to See a Doctor

It is important to visit your doctor if you are experiencing vaginal discomfort

  • For the very first time. This will ensure that the correct diagnosis is made based on the signs        and symptoms.
  • Which is different from the vaginal infection you’ve had previously.
  • When you’ve had a new sexual partner or multiple partners in the recent past. The signs and    symptoms of sexually transmitted infection are similar to yeast or bacterial infection.
  • When the course of treatment is completed for yeast infection, but the symptoms persist with        fever and vaginal odor. This could happen when the infection is not caused due to yeast or is          caused by a resistant strain of yeast.

Treatments of Vaginitis

Treatments for Different Types of Vaginitis

Various causes can be attributed to Vaginitis. The course of treatment is dependent on the causes. Allergic vaginitis can be treated by discontinuing the product by which the allergy has been caused. If the reaction is moderate or severe, other treatment will be required.

Type

Treatment

Bacterial Vaginosis

Metronidazole (Flagyl) is prescribed as oral medicine and Metronidazole Gel (MetroGel) or Clotrimazole (Cleocin) can be given for topical application in the vaginal area. The course of medication will be usually for a week, taking the tablets once or twice daily. 

Yeast Infections

The oral medication can be antifungal like Fluconazole (Diflucan)

For topical application, the various creams could be Miconazole (Monistat), Clotrimazole (Gyne-Lotrimin), and Tioconazole (Vagistat). OTC drugs are convenient, however, since the symptoms are similar to other type of vaginitis, improper medication may be taken. 

Trichomoniasis

For this condition, the drugs recommended are Metronidazole (Flagyl) or Tinidazole (Tindamax) tablets.

Noninfectious Vaginitis

The treatment will depend based on the irritant. Once determined, it will have to be avoided. Topical estrogen can be prescribed to relieve the symptoms.

The following video provides us more tips to treat bacterial vaginosis:

Home Remedies

Although the effectiveness is not proved via scientific studies, home remedies to treat vaginitis have been in practice for many years. Home remedies for vaginitis caused due to yeast and other infections have been given below:

  • Eat yogurt: Eating yoghurt which contains live lactobacillus acidophilus is beneficial in restoring the growth of good bacteria in the gastrointestinal track as well as the vaginal canal. This reduces the growth of candida yeast. The good bacteria thrive on yoghurt and then it will improve the ratio of bacteria. Study has shown that eating 1 cup of yoghurt every day for 6 months can reduce the risk of yeast infection.
  • Take OTC medicines: OTCs like anti-histamines or creams containing anesthetics can provide temporary relief but cannot treat the underlying condition.
  • Clean vagina with vinegar: Douching with vinegar can be applied; however, you should always inform your doctor about the remedies. It can remove the good bacteria and worsen the condition. Hence, doctors usually discourage this approach. The vagina is designed in such a way that it can cleanse itself.

Preventions of Vaginitis

  1. Avoid Irritants

Any product that can cause irritation should be avoided or discontinued. It can include products like scented tampons and pads, scented soaps and deodorants. It’s also advisable to avoid hot tubs, whirlpool spas, etc.

  1. Maintain Good Hygiene

It is very essential to maintain good hygiene in private parts of the body. After using the toilet, ensure that you wipe from front to back and not vice versa. This will ensure that the fecal bacteria do not come in contact with the vagina.

  1. Practice Safe Sex

Using latex condoms can ensure sexually transmitted diseases be avoided. Both male and female latex condoms can be used.

  1. Avoid Repetitive Douching

Douching can disturb the normal vaginal flora and increase the chances of infection. It will not be helpful in clearing the existing infection. Vagina does not need special cleaning except bathing.

  1. Wear Cotton Crotch Underwear

Yeast infections occur in moist parts of the body. Wearing cotton panties or the ones with cotton crotch will help in keeping the area dry. If you are comfortable, you can sleep without underwear.

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