Vaginitis covers a range of different conditions leading to vaginal infection or inflammation. There are many things that can cause vaginal infections and most infections are fairly common. You don’t need to have intercourse to develop a vaginal infection even though certain sexual diseases can give rise to vaginal infections.
There are not always noticeable symptoms or signs of vaginal bacteria that are negatively affecting your health. Some of the common symptoms of vaginal infections are vaginal soreness, inflammation around the vagina or vulva, itching or burning sensation of the vagina, vaginal bleeding, and pain when urinating or during penetrative vaginal sex. Vaginal discharge can also give an indication of an infection if you notice a change in the amount of discharge or its colour. If you have one or more of these symptoms that persist for a few days or you feel as if the symptoms are worsening, it is best to book an appointment with your healthcare provider. There is also the chance that you may mistake some of these symptoms for a vaginal infection while it can actually be a urinary tract infection. There are three common vaginal infections that you may come across which are yeast infections, bacterial vaginosis and trichomoniasis.
Bacterial vaginosis leads to yellow or greenish discharge with a fishy odour that tends to get stronger after you have penetrative vaginal sex. There is not much itching with this infection. However, there will be itching, burning or soreness of the vulva and vagina when you have a yeast infection. Discharge during a yeast infection is commonly described as being similar to cottage cheese texture while being lumpy and white. Trichomoniasis causes a fishy odour as well as vaginal itching. The discharge can be greenish yellow with a frothy texture and you will notice that the vulva and vagina are irritated and swollen. There will also be pain during penetrative vaginal sex and during urination. In addition to these infections, there is atrophic vaginitis that increases your risk of developing a vaginal infection. In this stage, you will notice changes in discharge and itching or burning of the vagina.
After a diagnostic test confirms the correct infection, a doctor will prescribe you medications to manage the infection. For bacterial infections, metronidazole or clindamycin are prescribed. Yeast infections are treated with antifungal creams or suppositories. Yeast infections are quite common and you will find over the counter treatment that can be taken without a prescription. Sometimes the products you use can cause irritation such as scented pads, scented tampons perfumed soap and douches. Douching refers to flushing your vagina with a commercial solution or a mixture of water and vinegar or any other cleansing solution. However, the vagina has an innate ability to keep itself clean and therefore, douching is not necessary. You can wash the vagina and vulva with plain water so the pH of the vagina is not disturbed. The clothing you wear can also have an effect especially with underwear that is not breathable which traps moisture.