What are Vaginal Infection / Vaginitis?
- Vaginitis or vaginal infection is a medical term used to refer a state of vagina that is not normal or healthy. It is marked by irritation, itchiness or soreness in the vagina. Vulvovaginitis refers to a state of vulva and vagina that complains about inflammation.
- Vagintis is caused by micro organisms like virus, yeast or bacteria that outgrow in number to do away with the friendly bacteria that fights them away.
- Intake of antibiotics, contraceptive pills, douches, stress, hormonal changes, chemical, sprays, sexual intercourse etc may cause vaginal infection.
- Vaginitis may occur due to some infectious as well as some non-infectious causes. The infection in vagina may be caused by one or more kind of bacteria, yeast or protozoa.
- The cause is many and thereby the diagnosis is difficult. Some of these are sexually transmitted. It’s easy to get rid of the infection in some cases while in others it gets extremely difficult.
- It’s very essential to get oneself properly examined as to find out the kind of infection as well as the medication thereby. One should not adhere some home remedies and rely on self diagnosis.
What is vaginal health?
Vaginal infection occurs when the self defense mechanism of the vagina gets disturbed. Certain kind of “friendly” bacteria are found inside the vagina. These are quite helpful in preventing vaginal infection. They produce some acids that control the growth of other harmful bacteria. This state can be stated as a healthy vagina. Vaginal infection occurs when this balance breaks
A healthy vagina produces some discharge that is clear or translucent and odorless. There occurs no itchiness or soreness.
What is abnormal Vaginal Discharge?
Vaginal discharge is normal for women who are of reproductive age. Although the amount of discharge changes as so does the consistency. Some may feel some discharge at the time of sexual intercourse or maybe even a kiss. But this is normal. The amount and color of discharge change with menstrual cycles, pregnancy and sexual intercourse.
A normal discharge is odorless, translucent and non itchy and non- irritating. But a discharge that is yellowish or grey is abnormal. Abnormal discharge is also accompanied with foul fishy smell. Such a discharge may also cause irritation, itching as well as burning sensation.
Causes of vaginal infection / vaginitis:
- Douche kills the friendly bacteria, present in the vagina, that immunes the body against vaginal infection.
- If proper care is not taken to keep vaginal area clean and dry, infections occur. Moisture accelerates the growth of yeasts.
Improper washing after bowel movement:
- Washing should be directed from the front to the back while cleaning the body after bowel movement. This way bacteria like E.colli can be prevented from being transported to the vagina from the rectum.
- Tight clothing restricts breath-ability and the vaginal skin remains moist with sweat and lack of proper air circulation.
Non- cotton panties:
- Non cotton panties retain heat and moisture for longer hours and promote the growth of microorganisms.
- Hot and humid climate breeds more infection. The condition is apt for microorganisms to thrive.
- Increased pH in the vagina means reduced acidity which in turn means decrease in the number of friendly bacteria that live in the vagina to preserve immunity.
- This occurs mainly during pregnancy and also before and after having menstrual cycle due to change in the level of hormones.
Decrease in estrogen level:
- Post menopausal women show decrease in level of estrogen. This causes thinning and drying of vaginal tissues.
Use of perfumed toilet papers, tampons, pads etc:
- These may also cause vaginal infection.
Presence of a foreign body inside the vagina:
- A tampon, especially a forgotten one, may cause growth of bacteria.
Unprotected sexual activity:
- This may cause sexually transmitted vaginal infection.
Symptoms of Vaginal Infection / vaginitis:
Some commonly observed symptoms of vaginal infection are:
- Abnormal discharge characterized by foul odor as well as abnormal color and thickness.
- Frequent and painful urination. Some may suffer from either or both of these.
- Itching around the vaginal area.
- Soreness and redness of the vagina and vulva.
- Painful sexual intercourse.
- This is the key to proper treatment of any disease or infection. And in the case of vaginal infection, it is no less important. Diagnosis of this is not easy, even for an experienced doctor, as the same symptom may occur for different kind of infections.
- Many a times the infection may occur due to more than one cause. This makes diagnosis more difficult.
- A proper inspection into the color, smell as well as amount of the discharge may also be beneficial.
Method of diagnosis:
- A sample of urine may be sent to the laboratory for diagnosis of the nature if vaginal infection.
- A trained nurse or a doctor may look inside the vagina and take a smear test with the help of a speculum.
- The doctor may examine the skin around your vagina and also the lining inside the vagina.
- A small section of cells from the vagina may also be taken for laboratory tests.
How to prevent vaginitis / vaginal infection:
Prevention is always better than cure. Women are prone to vaginal infection at some or the other point in their life. Here are a few ways by which one can prevent vaginitis:
- Try to wear cotton panties that are easy to wash and quick to dry types. Avoid wearing fabrics that hold moisture and retain heat. You may wear panties fancy panties that have cotton panels inside. Avoid wearing nylon panties.
- Maintain good hygiene. Wash your panties daily and dry them in light sun to sterilize them.
- Eat a balanced diet and introduce yoghurt in your eating habits. Yoghurt is known to prevent vaginal infection.
- Avoid douching as it may also clean the friendly bacteria that immune your body against vaginal infection and use of perfumed soaps, tampons, pads or vaginal sprays.
- Inculcate safe sexual habits. Use condoms for a healthier life. Wash the vagina before and after having sex and pat it dry.