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What is Vaginitis?

Vaginitis is an inflammation or infection of the vagina caused by an overgrowth of yeast and bacteria naturally found in the vagina. There are different types of vaginitis, and the most common types are bacterial vaginosis, candidiasis, and trichomoniasis. Vaginitis is prevalent among women and is typically easy to treat. Your Ob/Gyn can tell if you have it by examining you and doing some tests. 

Symptoms 

The signs and symptoms of vaginitis can vary depending on the cause. In some cases, there are no symptoms. When symptoms do happen, they often include:

  • Abnormal vaginal discharge with noticeable change in color, odor, or amount 
  • Itching of the vagina or the area around the vagina
  • Redness, pain, or swelling around the vagina
  • Painful urination
  • Pain during sex

Treatment will depend on the cause of the infection, so seeing a healthcare provider who can examine you is important.

Causes

Vaginitis isn’t always caused by vaginal infections. However, for the majority of vaginitis cases, the causes are below. 

Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) – BV the most common cause of abnormal vaginal discharge in women of reproductive age. Treatment is aimed at relieving symptoms, although many individuals are asymptomatic. Of those with symptoms, abnormal vaginal discharge and fishy odor are typical. While it is unknown exactly what causes BV, the following factors place a woman at increased risk of developing BV:

  • Being sexually active
  • Having multiple sex partners (or new sex partners) 
  • Douching 
  • Lack of the good bacteria that keeps the chemistry of your vagina balanced, called lactobacilli

Candidiasis – Vulvovaginal candidiasis is a yeast infection that is caused by an overgrowth of the fungus candida that grows in the vagina. This may cause thick, white discharge that can look like cottage cheese, and an itching, burning, and/or redness of the vagina and vulva. Certain medicines (especially antibiotics), stress, and other factors can cause the fungus to grow more than it should. When that happens, a yeast infection can start. The causes of Candidiasis include:

  • Antibiotic use
  • Increased estrogen levels
  • Uncontrolled diabetes
  • Impaired immune system

Trichomoniasis – Trichomoniasis is a common curable sexually transmitted disease that is caused by a tiny parasite called Trichomonas vaginalis. The most common symptom is a frothy green or yellow discharge with or without pain.  Causes of Trichomoniasis include:

  • Multiple sexual partners
  • A history of other sexually transmitted infections
  • A previous episode of trichomoniasis
  • Sex without a condom

Risks

There are a number of different factors that can affect the health of your vagina and cause vaginitis such as: 

Vaginal Atrophy –  Vaginal atrophy is a condition in which the lining of the vagina becomes drier, thinner, and inflamed. It is caused by a decrease in estrogen production, and women who have low estrogen levels during or after menopause may develop atrophic vaginitis. 

Non-Infectious Vaginitis – Vaginitis can be developed in response to certain medications you may be taking (especially antibiotics), as well as certain products you may be using, such as irritating feminine hygiene products, scented bath products, and even scented detergent. You can also have an allergic reaction to spermicide or your sex partner’s semen.

Diagnosis & Care

Treatment varies depending on the type of vaginitis you have. Diagnosis and care for the three most common vaginal infections include: 

Bacterial VaginosisCandidiasis Trichomoniasis
Your doctor collects a sample of your vaginal discharge for lab testing to look for an infection. 
Bacterial vaginosis is treated with medicine. The 2 medicines most often used are Metronidazole and Clindamycin.
Both of these medicines come in different forms. They can come as a pill that you swallow or as a gel or cream that you put inside your vagina. 

Your doctor runs a swab inside your vagina to collect vaginal fluids to examine under a microscope to look for the fungus that causes yeast infections. 
Yeast infections can be treated with a pill that you swallow or with medicines that you put in the vagina and on the vulva. 
All medicines for yeast infections work by killing the fungus that causes the infections.
Trichomoniasis is treated with medicine that comes in pills. There are 2 prescription medicines for trichomoniasis – Metronidazole or Tinidazole. Your doctor will test you again after you’re done taking the medicine to make sure that you haven’t been infected again. The repeat test is done between 2 weeks and 3 months after finishing the medicine.

At Viva Eve, our top-rated NYC Women’s Health Specialists provide expert care in all areas of your femine health, from vaginitis to fibroid treatment. Vaginitis can occur for a variety of reasons, from vaginal infections to vaginal irritation, and our Ob/Gyns and nurse practitioners understand the stress and symptoms vaginitis can cause. With longer, in-depth appointments, diagnostic testing, and on-site lab work, we provide you with comprehensive, empowering care you deserve.

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