Vaginitis is an inflammation of the vagina. The normal environment of the vagina is acidic which helps to prevent overgrowth of organisms that can cause vaginitis. When disruption of the lining occurs due to extreme stress or antibiotic use, women may develop vaginitis.
There are different types of vaginitis. The most common are:
- Yeast vaginitis caused by Candida albicans (a yeast)
- A bacterial infection called bacterial vaginosis
- Vaginitis related to sexually transmitted diseases such as Trichimonas
Any woman can get vaginitis.
Signs and symptoms vary depending on what type of vaginitis you have but may include:
- Vaginal discharge
- Foul odor
- Pain/irritation with sexual intercourse
- Inflammation (irritation, redness, and swelling caused by the presence of extra immune cells) of the labia majora, labia minora, or perineal area
- General vaginal irritation
Prevention of yeast infections (candidiasis), the most common type of vaginitis, starts with good hygiene:
- Drying completely after bathing
- Wearing fresh undergarments
- Wiping from front to rear after defecation
Douching is not recommended, as it upsets the normal balance of yeast in the vagina.
Treatment depends on the type of vaginitis. For uncomplicated yeast infections, over-the-counter antifungal creams can be used. In some situations, women may be given a prescription pill called Diflucan to treat a yeast infection. For bacterial vaginosis, either oral or vaginal forms of the medications Flagyl or Clinidamycin can be used. For trichimonas, a single dose of Flagyl is used. Other types of vaginal infections are treated based on specific findings on exam or culture results.