What is Vaginitis?

By  , Expert Content
Feb 21, 2012

The term vaginitis describes disorders that cause infection or inflammation of the vagina. When the vulva (the outer area of labial and skin surrounding the vagina) is also affected, it is known as vulvovaginitis.

Vaginitis can be caused due to several different factors. Some of the common causes of vaginitis include:

  • Candida or "yeast" vaginitis,
  • bacterial vaginosis,
  • Trichomoniasis vaginitis (a sexually transmitted infection),
  • Chlamydia vaginitis,
  • Viral vaginitis,
  • non-infectious vaginitis and
  • Atrophic vaginitis.

Vaginitis may be caused by excessive antibiotic use, diabetes, excessive alcohol consumption, steroid use and a weakened immune system.

Symptoms of vaginitis

Signs and symptoms experienced by a woman can vary depending on the underlying cause (infection or inflammation). Severity of symptoms may vary from mild to severe and some women may have no symptoms at all. Some common symptoms that are present in most forms of vaginitis are:

  • abnormal vaginal discharge (thick or thin) that may be foul smelling,
  • burning sensation on passing urine,
  • pain on urination,
  • itching or irritation around the outside of the vagina and
  • pain or discomfort during sexual intercourse.

Diagnosis and treatment

Vaginitis is diagnosed based on medical history and gynaecologic exam. Tests may be done to confirm the cause of vaginitis. Some tests that may be done include wet-mount preparation, KOH preparation and Whiff test and urine tests.

As there are several causes of vaginitis, a key to successful treatment is proper diagnosis. Medication prescribed for vaginitis may include oral medications, creams and suppositories. Treatment of bacterial vaginosis includes metronidazole tablets (taken orally), metronidazole gel for application in vagina or clindamycin cream for local application in the vagina. Most women need treatment for five to seven days. Yeast infections in most women can be treated with over-the-counter medications (such as miconazole, tioconazole, butoconazole, clotrimazole creams and gels). If the symptoms do not improve with over-the-counter medications, consult a doctor. Pregnant women should consult a doctor before using any treatment.

Prevention of vaginitis

You can reduce your chances of getting vaginitis by following the given steps:

  • Wear comfortable clothes made of cotton and avoid tight clothes and clothes made of synthetic fabric.
  • Avoid use of scented soaps, coloured or perfumed toilet paper, scented tampons, panty liners.
  • Maintain appropriate genital hygiene.
  • Avoid excessive vaginal douching.
  • Practice safe sex.




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