Vaginitis is an inflammation of the vagina which may cause vaginal itching and/or vaginal secretions. There are several reasons that the vagina may become inflamed, each necessitating a different prevention and treatment strategy. However, before we discuss those strategies, let's consider the signs and symptoms:
1. Bacterial vaginosis. Occurs when the normal balance of vaginal bacteria is disturbed due to a surplus of "bad" bacteria. Vaginal secretions may be grayish-white and have a fishy odor; this type is common during pregnancy, though many women never even detect it.
2. Yeast infection. Marked primarily by vaginal itching, yeast infections are caused by a fungus called Candida albicans. A secondary symptom is a thick, white, curd-like vaginal secretion. Three out of four women will experience a yeast infection in her lifetime.
3. Trichomoniasis. Caused by a parasite, this form of vaginal inflammation is often passed along during sexual intercourse. It is marked by a greenish-yellow vaginal secretion.
4. Atrophic vaginitis. After menopause or following the removal of the ovaries, decreasing estrogen levels may cause vaginal itching and burning due to the thinning and drying of vaginal tissues.
5. Noninfectious vaginitis. Triggered by a specific irritant, such as a new soap or tampons.
There are many easy ways to prevent vaginal inflammation and irritation:
Treatment for each case of vaginal inflammation varies with the specific cause; some cases can be treated successfully at home, while others require a doctor's diagnosis and a prescription medication.
Whether your medication is a cream, vaginal suppository, or oral tablets, always be sure to finish the entire round of doses, even if you feel better right away.
Though recurring yeast infections are usually successfully treated at home, other causes of vaginal itching and inflammation will require a trip to the doctor's office.
Be sure to see a doctor if:
Be sure to mention any vaginal itching, vaginal secretions or vaginal bleeding.
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