Vaginitis, Inflammation of the Vagina
Virtually all women are familiar with yeast infections - as a matter of fact, three-quarters of all women will have experienced at least one in their lifetime. These unpleasant, uncomfortable, irritating and often recurring infections occur for a variety of reasons. However, yeast infection is not the only type of vaginal infection, called vaginitis that women may experience. There are three common types of vaginitis:
· trichomoniasis, which is a sexually transmitted disease
· bacterial vaginosis, which is the result of an ecosystem imbalance within the vagina
· yeast, generally an imbalance in the vaginal ecosystem or hormonal imbalances
Vaginitis is an inflammation of the vagina that presents with a variety of symptoms, including:
They are often treated with an over-the-counter cream to treat the discharge or itching, and in some cases, oral treatments are use.
Vaginitis - An Inflammation of the Vagina
The word vaginitis actually means inflammation of the vagina and is often caused by infections. However, it may be caused by hormonal changes (menopause or pregnancy) or by trauma in a young girl. Sometimes vaginitis is the warning sign of something more serious, which is why it is important to have the infection properly diagnosed before applying any type of self-treatment. The symptoms can be the same for the various infections, but treatments may differ. It's best to have the right diagnosis to avoid under or over treating the infection.
Bacterial Vaginosis - Most Common Vaginitis in Women
About 50 percent of all cases of vaginitis are caused by bacterial vaginosis (BV); the most common cause of infection is women of childbearing age. A change in the vaginal ecosystem that creates an imbalance, including pH changes, results when abnormal bacteria outnumber normal bacteria. BV can be caused by pregnancy, the use of an intrauterine device (IUD), and frequent douching is also a risk for BV. A woman who has several different sexual partners is at higher risk for contracting BV.
Bacterial vaginosis symptoms include an abnormal, odorous discharge (fishy smell) that is particularly noticeable after intercourse. There may be burning after urination, itching around the outside of the vagina, or both. About half of the women who have BV have no symptoms at all and it is only by way of a physical examination that the infection is even discovered. The decreased acidity of the vaginal environment, change in pH of the vaginal fluid, and smelly discharge are all included in diagnosing BV. Bacterial vaginosis can be treated effectively with antibiotics.
Left untreated, bacterial vaginosis may cause some serious complications for a woman, particularly a pregnant woman:
· BV is associated with pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which can cause infertility and ectopic pregnancies
· Premature delivery during pregnancy
· Low birth weight babies
· Increase susceptibility to STDs like gonorrhea and Chlamydia
Trichomoniasis - Vaginitis in the Form of an STD
Trichomoniasis, usually referred to as "trich" is a common STD, affecting more than seven million Americans every year. The source of trich is a parasite named Trichomonas vaginalis. Both sexes can be affected with this STD, with men experiencing the infection in the urethra and women, most commonly, in the vagina. Like many other STDs, trichomoniasis often occurs without obvious symptoms - men almost never have symptoms. Women will usually present with symptoms of trich within five to 28 days of exposure to the parasite. The symptoms of trichomoniasis in women are:
· A heavy or frothy yellow-green or grey vaginal discharge with a strong odor
· Itching or irritation of the genitals
· Burning with urination
· Painful intercourse
· Sometimes lower abdominal pain
Since trichomoniasis can be transmitted by men to women during sex even when symptoms are not present, both partners should be treated for the parasite together. A drug named Metyronidazole is used to treat trich and it is usually administered in a single dose. As is common with many sexually transmitted diseases, the risks include an increased danger of transmission of HIV and, a pregnant woman with trichomoniasis that has not been treated risks delivering a low birth weight or premature baby.
The best and surest way to avoid transmission of an STD is to either abstain from sexual contact or to be in a monogamous, long-term relationship with someone who has a clean bill of health. Although condoms may help in the spread of trich, there are no studies available as to how to prevent this disease.
Learn About Yeast Infection - The Vaginitis We All Know About
You can learn about yeast infections, the vaginitis women are most familiar with, by reading further on this site.