Vaginitis is a common problem, most prevalent in women who have diabetes. It involves inflammation in the vaginal area due to infection or an improper balance in vaginal bacteria. The most frequently reported symptoms are itching, pain and unusual discharge.
What Is Vaginitis? The Four Common Types
There are many kinds of vaginitis, but these are the four most common types:
- Bacterial vaginosis: Too much bacteria grows in the vagina and causes an imbalance.
- Atrophic vaginitis: Menopause causes estrogen levels to drop, thinning the vaginal lining and making it more susceptible to inflammation.
- Trichomoniasis: This common, curable, sexually-transmitted disease (STD) is caused by a parasite.
- Candida albicans: This is commonly known as a yeast infection.
Your doctor will conduct a physical examination and may take a discharge sample to help determine the cause of your symptoms.
Signs and Symptoms
Vaginitis can be extremely mild or intensely painful — it varies from person to person.
Here is a list of some of the most common symptoms:
- Increased discharge that’s different in color and odor
- Itching in the vaginal region
- Painful intercourse
- Painful urination
- Irregular bleeding
If you suspect you have vaginitis, when should you visit your doctor?
It’s important to see your doctor whenever you have any of these symptoms, especially if you’ve never had vaginitis before. If you try to treat symptoms with over-the-counter yeast infection medication and it doesn’t help, call your doctor. If you have a new sexual partner, these symptoms could signify the transmission of an STD. Also, if you have a fever, abdominal or pelvic-area pain along with these symptoms, don’t wait to make an appointment.
Get the Right Treatment
Depending on the cause of your vaginitis, your doctor may prescribe creams, ointments or an oral tablet. Make sure to follow through with the entire course of treatment, even if you feel better after a few days.
Prevent Future Infections
To ensure your vaginal area stays healthy, make lifestyle and daily hygiene changes.
Keep vaginitis away by avoiding spas and hot tubs. Switch out your scented soaps and body washes for non-irritant cleaners. Wear loose cotton underwear and try to keep your vaginal area dry and clean at all times to limit fungal growth. Always wipe from front to back to limit the spread of bacteria into your vagina.
Never douche — it’s counterproductive and puts you at a higher risk of infection. Finally, always practice safe sex to keep your body protected from STDs — use latex condoms every time.
Contact Rocky Mountain Women’s Health Center for more information on the symptoms of vaginitis and what to do if you suspect you have an infection.