VAGINITIS (INFLAMMATION OF THE VAGINA) PART 2

Last week, we started a discussion on Vaginitis, which is the inflammation of the vagina. We mentioned and explained types and some of the causes, this week, we will continue on more causes, signs, symptoms, complications and prevention.

CAUSES OF VAGINITIS(CONTINUED)

INFECTIOUS VAGINITIS

Sprays, douches, detergents, and spermicides cause allergic reactions in the vaginal tissues. Tampons and tissues, for example, can create a type of non-infectious vaginitis that can be treated by removing the irritant. Vaginitis may also occur in young girls who are not sexually active but due to poor hygiene, particularly when they wipe from back to front, bringing fecal germs from the anus to the vagina.

ATROPHIC VAGINITIS

This is also known as vaginal atrophy. This inflammation occurs due to deficiency of the reproductive hormone estrogen.  The level of estrogen in a woman declines at a particular times like during menopause and while breastfeeding causing the inner layer of the vagina to shrink resulting to irritation, burning, edema, dryness, urine urgency and itching. Women with vaginal atrophy have a greater chance of developing chronic vaginal infections. This condition is common with a lot of postmenopausal women experience. It is also possible to get the condition if you are on estrogen-lowering medicine for breast cancer or endometriosis, or have diabetes.

SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF VAGINITIS

The symptoms of vaginitis vary depending on the cause of the infection or inflammation. Most women with vaginitis are asymptomatic. Some of the symptoms you could experience include:

  • A burning feeling when urinating
  • Vaginal itchiness
  • Discomfort or pain during sex
  • Genital irritation
  • Inflammation causing swelling of the labia
  • Spotting or bleeding
  • Fever or chills
  • Pelvic pain
  • Abnormal vaginal discharge

An abnormal vaginal discharge could include:

  • Thick, white and odorless vaginal discharge
  • Graying and foamy vaginal discharge with a fishy smell
  • Frothy, yellow-green and foul-smelling discharge

Some women get recurrent vaginal infections, or the symptoms of vaginitis do not go away even after treatment. In such instances, you should visit a clinician.

COMPLICATIONS OF VAGINITIS

Vaginitis is one of the most common gynecological issues among women aged 15 to 45. Vaginitis can lead to more serious complications if left untreated. The following are some of the most common complication of untreated vaginitis:

  • Vaginitis increases the chances of being infected with  STIs such as HIV, chlamydia and gonorrhea.
  • In pregnant women, vaginitis caused by bacterial vaginosis or trichomoniasis can induce preterm labor and delivery.
  • Yeast infections can cause discomfort, soreness, trouble peeing, and increased vaginal sensitivity.
  • Recurrent or persistent bacterial vaginosis demands numerous treatments

Sexually transmitted bacteria migrate from the vaginal to the upper reproductive tract, causing Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID). Bacteria that cause PID are commonly seen in chlamydia and gonorrhea.

PID can lead to chronic pelvic pain, an abscess in the fallopian tubes or ovaries, ectopic pregnancies, and  infertility if left untreated.

PREVENTION OF VAGINITIS

Some cases of vaginitis can be avoided if you take a few precautions. The following are some of the most frequent techniques to prevent vaginitis:

  • Avoid douching, many women believe that douching make them feel cleaner, but it can actually make symptoms worse by removing good bacteria from the vaginal lining, which helps defend against infection.
  • Avoid the use of vaginal sprays, perfumed toilet paper, and tampons since they may contain chemicals that irritate your vagina. Instead use non-scented  pads.
  • Clean the vaginal area with plain warm water or a mild, unscented soap on a daily basis.
  • To minimize yeast infections, keep the vaginal area as dry as possible
  • If you are overweight, lose weight to improve blood circulation to the vaginal area.
  • Limit your sexual partners and always use a condom when having sex. Vaginal infections are less likely when you have fewer sexual partners. Condoms consisting of other materials such as nitrile, polyurethane, or polyisoprene that can be used if you are sensitive to latex.
  • Take the antibiotics as directed by the clinician. Antibiotics remove bad bacteria, but when used wrongly, they can also kill helpful bacteria in the digestive system and vaginal area.
  • Avoid wearing wet or damp garments since they provide a warm, moist environment for yeast infections to thrive.
  • Avoid wearing clothes that is too tight since it traps moisture and heat in the genitals.
  • Cotton underwear promotes air circulation and keeps the vaginal area dry.
  • Stop using lubricants or spermicides that irritate you.
  • Understand your genitals, regular odors, and vaginal discharge, as well as changes during the menstrual cycle, so you can notice harmful changes and get treatment as soon as possible.
  • Keep your blood sugar under control if you have diabetes.
  • Understand how to clean your genital area appropriately while bathing or showering.
  • Change your tampon on a regular basis to minimize irritation from an overstayed tampon. 
  • Exercise on a regular basis to keep your body in good shape and enhance circulation.
  • To avoid spreading bacteria from the anus to the vagina, wipe correctly from front to back………………………TO BE CONTINUED

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