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Vaginitis is a term used to describe any disorder that causes swelling or infection of both the vulva and the vagina.
The most common types of vaginitis include:
- “Yeast” infections – Infections caused by the fungus Candida. The most apparent symptom of a yeast infection is a thick, white vaginal discharge; some women also experience a red, itchy vulva. There are many over-the-counter and prescription treatments for yeast infections. Your gynaecologist will be able to provide the best medication to help with the situation.
- Bacterial vaginosis – Caused by an overgrowth of bacteria that are normally present in the vagina. This type of vaginosis is the most common vaginal infection for women of reproductive age. The most common symptom is a vaginal discharge, which is usually thin and milky; it may also have a “fishy” odor. Your gynaecologist can recommend medications to treat bacterial vaginosis.
- Sexually transmitted forms of vaginitis – These types of vaginitis are most often spread through sexual contact, and are also called sexually transmitted diseases. Some types of sexually transmitted vaginitis include:
- Trichomoniasis – Is a curable infection. Many women with this condition don’t have any symptoms; but some women do. Common symptoms include: vaginal discharge that is bubbly, greenish-yellow, and has an odour; itching and soreness of the vulva and the vagina; and burning when you urinate. Most gynaecologists will prescribe an antibiotic to treat and cure trichomoniasis; however, for treatment to work properly, sexual partners should be treated at the same time.
- Chlamydia – Is a curable infection. Because chlamydia does not make most people sick, you can have the infection and not even know it. Symptoms of chlamydia include a mucus-like or pus-like vaginal discharge or pain when you urinate. But these symptoms can be mild. The bacteria can also infect your throat, if you’ve had oral physical contact with an infected partner. Gynaecologists will prescribe an antibiotic to treat and cure chlamydia.
- Herpes simplex virus – Also called “genital herpes,” is caused by a virus. Genital herpes can be controlled, but not cured. Most women with genital herpes will have sores or lesions on the vulva, or on the outside of the vagina; sometimes these sores are found within the vagina, and can only be seen during a gynaecological exam. The sores are often the source of pain for women infected with genital herpes. Your gynaecologist can recommend ways to control the symptoms of genital herpes.
- Human papillomavirus (HPV) – Is caused by a virus. It can be controlled, but not cured. Some women with HPV don’t have any symptoms; they don’t find out they have the virus until they get the results of their annual pap smear. Other women with HPV have genital warts, usually grey, white, or purple, that grow in their vagina or rectum, or on their vulva or groin.
- Noninfectious vaginitis – Is typically the result of an allergic reaction or an irritation to vaginal sprays, creams, and spermacides, or to soaps, detergents, and fabric softeners. Once you stop using the product that caused the reaction, your symptoms should go away. But, your gynaecologist may suggest a medicated cream to reduce the symptoms until the reaction goes away.