• Shruti GOCHHWAL

7 Vaginal Infections and How to Keep Them at Bay

Seven types of vaginal infections or vaginitis is a very common problem faced by women all around the globe.

Sometimes, they may be harmless and go away on it’s own but they can also be damaging especially to your sexual and reproductive health.

Here are some of the most common types of vaginal infections:

1)  Bacterial Vaginosis

There is a bacteria known as lactobacilli that lives in the vagina harmlessly. In fact, it is termed as the friendly bacteria.

This is because when the number of lactobacilli gets low, the normal lactobacilli gets replaced by other harmful bacteria. This triggers an infection called bacterial vaginosis (BV).

Symptoms include:

  1. Thick white discharge (may be clear)

  2. A distinct or noticeable fishy odor.

  3. Pain during pregnancy

2)  Yeast infections (Candida)

It is the most prevalent form of vaginal disease caused by a fungal type called candida. In comparison, certain candida species are the most similar with candida albicans.

Usually, every woman has a certain amount of this fungus in their body but the one problem occurs when there is an overgrowth.

Such overgrowth can be triggered by:

  1. Hormone level changes

  2. Birth control pills

  3. Pregnancy

  4. Menstruation

  5. High blood sugar

  6. Low immunity

Symptoms include:

  1. Formation of a thick, white discharge that resembles cottage cheese.

  2. Vaginal itching

  3. Redness of the vulva

3)  Trichomoniasis

It is also known as trichomonas vaginitis, also called trichomoniasis and is an infection that can only be transmitted through sexual contact from one partner to another.

A single cell parasite, Trichomonas vaginalis, is responsible for the infection. The typical trichomonas vaginalis life cycle is around 5-27 days. They will remain in the lower female genital tract and the male urethra and prostate, and replicate them there.

Symptoms of trichomoniasis include:

  1. Occurrence of other vaginal infections

  2. Burning

  3. Greenish vaginal discharge

  4. Irritation

  5. Swelling

  6. redness

  7. Fishy

  8. Pain during sex or urination (rare)

4)  Gonorrhea

It is an infection with a high level of sexual transmission. Gonorrhoea does not cause any symptoms but can cause excessive vaginal discharge, pain during urination or sexual intercourse.

This infection commonly occurs along with Chlamydia.

5)  Chlamydia

This is another type of sexually transmitted disease, similar to gonorrhoea.

It causes the following:

  1. Inflammation of the vagina.

  2. Vaginal discharge

  3. Bleeding between periods or after vaginal intercourse.

Although it comes without distinct symptoms, it can cause problems with fertility.

6)  Non-infectious Vaginitis

Such infections do not occur due to any pathogens but when externally vaginal becomes sensitive to irritants like:

  1. Tampons

  2. Scented soaps

  3. detergents

  4. Fabric softener

  5. Any other chemicals

7)  Viral vaginitis

Sometimes, viruses also can cause vaginal infections, mainly through sexual contact. The herpes simplex is the most common type that causes infections.

Symptoms include:

  1. Pain in the genital area

  2. Formation of lesions or sores internally or externally.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Diagnosis

The doctor will review your medical history – your sexual health, number of sexual partners, past vaginal infections, STDs, etc.

A pelvic exam may also be performed along with taking an exam of your vaginal discharge which is later tested in the lab.

High vaginal swab (HVS) is a medical procedure for the examination and diagnosis of vagina, bacterial vaginal disease and vaginal trichomonas.

The swab is inserted into the vagina during aseptic condition and is rotated to obtain the sample of the discharge.

Treatment

Treatment usually depends on the cause of the infection:

  1. Bacterial infections and trichomoniasis are usually treated with metronidazole medications.

  2. Yeast infection is treated with antifungal creams.

  3. Estrogen creams and skin soothing products may also be used.

Vaginal suppositories are oval-shaped medicinal products with a certain dose applied by a particular applicator into the vagina. They’ll melt rapidly and absorb the bloodstream until inserted into the body. They are widely used to treat vaginal dryness and bacterial or fungal infections.

Home Remedies and Measures to Control Vaginal Infection

They include:

  1. Use of probiotics

  2. Bathing in apple cider

  3. Consuming curd and white yogurt

  4. Consuming a microbiome-friendly diet

  5. Keep the vaginal area dry and clean

  6. Wear cotton underwear and avoid wearing tight bottoms.

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