Vaginitis

ExitCare ImageVaginitis is an inflammation of the vagina. It is most often caused by a change in the normal balance of the bacteria and yeast that live in the vagina. This change in balance causes an overgrowth of certain bacteria or yeast, which causes the inflammation. There are different types of vaginitis, but the most common types are:

  • Bacterial vaginosis.

  • Yeast infection (candidiasis).

  • Trichomoniasis vaginitis. This is a sexually transmitted infection (STI).

  • Viral vaginitis.

  • Atropic vaginitis.

  • Allergic vaginitis.

CAUSES

The cause depends on the type of vaginitis. Vaginitis can be caused by:

  • Bacteria (bacterial vaginosis).

  • Yeast (yeast infection).

  • A parasite (trichomoniasis vaginitis)

  • A virus (viral vaginitis).

  • Low hormone levels (atrophic vaginitis). Low hormone levels can occur during pregnancy, breastfeeding, or after menopause.

  • Irritants, such as bubble baths, scented tampons, and feminine sprays (allergic vaginitis).

Other factors can change the normal balance of the yeast and bacteria that live in the vagina. These include:

  • Antibiotic medicines.

  • Poor hygiene.

  • Diaphragms, vaginal sponges, spermicides, birth control pills, and intrauterine devices (IUD).

  • Sexual intercourse.

  • Infection.

  • Uncontrolled diabetes.

  • A weakened immune system.

SYMPTOMS

Symptoms can vary depending on the cause of the vaginitis. Common symptoms include:

  • Abnormal vaginal discharge.

  • The discharge is white, gray, or yellow with bacterial vaginosis.

  • The discharge is thick, white, and cheesy with a yeast infection.

  • The discharge is frothy and yellow or greenish with trichomoniasis.

  • A bad vaginal odor.

  • The odor is fishy with bacterial vaginosis.

  • Vaginal itching, pain, or swelling.

  • Painful intercourse.

  • Pain or burning when urinating.

Sometimes, there are no symptoms.

TREATMENT

Treatment will vary depending on the type of infection.

  • Bacterial vaginosis and trichomoniasis are often treated with antibiotic creams or pills.

  • Yeast infections are often treated with antifungal medicines, such as vaginal creams or suppositories.

  • Viral vaginitis has no cure, but symptoms can be treated with medicines that relieve discomfort. Your sexual partner should be treated as well.

  • Atrophic vaginitis may be treated with an estrogen cream, pill, suppository, or vaginal ring. If vaginal dryness occurs, lubricants and moisturizing creams may help. You may be told to avoid scented soaps, sprays, or douches.

  • Allergic vaginitis treatment involves quitting the use of the product that is causing the problem. Vaginal creams can be used to treat the symptoms.

HOME CARE INSTRUCTIONS

  • Take all medicines as directed by your caregiver.

  • Keep your genital area clean and dry. Avoid soap and only rinse the area with water.

  • Avoid douching. It can remove the healthy bacteria in the vagina.

  • Do not use tampons or have sexual intercourse until your vaginitis has been treated. Use sanitary pads while you have vaginitis.

  • Wipe from front to back. This avoids the spread of bacteria from the rectum to the vagina.

  • Let air reach your genital area.

  • Wear cotton underwear to decrease moisture buildup.

  • Avoid wearing underwear while you sleep until your vaginitis is gone.

  • Avoid tight pants and underwear or nylons without a cotton panel.

  • Take off wet clothing (especially bathing suits) as soon as possible.

  • Use mild, non-scented products. Avoid using irritants, such as:

  • Scented feminine sprays.

  • Fabric softeners.

  • Scented detergents.

  • Scented tampons.

  • Scented soaps or bubble baths.

  • Practice safe sex and use condoms. Condoms may prevent the spread of trichomoniasis and viral vaginitis.

SEEK MEDICAL CARE IF:

  • You have abdominal pain.

  • You have a fever or persistent symptoms for more than 2–3 days.

  • You have a fever and your symptoms suddenly get worse.