Vaginitis is the Inflammation of the Vulva, Labia and Vagina.
Vaginitis is the term used for any disorder of the female genitalia that causes inflammation. So if you have ever experienced a common yeast infection, technically you have had vaginitis. It is a very common condition with 1/3 of women experiencing vaginitis at some stage of their lives.
When a woman approaches menopause, and the body is producing less estrogen, the lining of the vagina becomes thinner and less plump, and during intercourse or masturbation, the vagina can become inflamed. Reduced estrogen levels can also cause vaginitis by changing the balance of good bacteria. This can cause itching, swelling, pain or a yeast infection.
Unfortunately, Menopause and vaginitis usually go hand in hand (in a bad way..). But let's look at the causes, and how to combat menopause and vaginitis.
There are several different types of vaginitis. They include:
Bacterial Vaginosis (BV):
Bacterial vaginosis occurs when there is an imbalance in the natural bacteria that normally inhabit the vagina. It is characterized by an overgrowth of harmful bacteria, such as Gardnerella vaginalis. BV can cause a grayish-white, fishy-smelling discharge.
Yeast infections, also known as candidiasis, are caused by an overgrowth of the fungus Candida albicans. Factors that can contribute to yeast infections include hormonal changes, weakened immune system, antibiotic use, uncontrolled diabetes, and wearing tight or damp clothing. Yeast infections typically cause a thick, white, cottage cheese-like discharge and intense itching.
Trichomoniasis is a sexually transmitted infection caused by the parasite Trichomonas vaginalis. It can cause a yellow-green, frothy discharge with a strong odor, as well as itching and irritation. It is more common in women who are sexually active.
Atrophic vaginitis occurs when the vaginal tissues become thin, dry, and inflamed due to a decrease in estrogen levels, commonly seen during menopause. This can cause symptoms such as vaginal dryness, itching, and pain during intercourse.
Some women may experience an allergic reaction to certain substances, such as spermicides, latex condoms, soaps, perfumes, or douches. This can lead to inflammation and irritation of the vagina.
Irritant vaginitis can occur due to irritants such as harsh soaps, bubble baths, fabric softeners, or chemicals in personal care products that come into contact with the vagina.
Some of the Causes Vaginitis?
In non-infectious vaginitis, the most common cause is irritants such as:
A hormone imbalance
Scented Washing Powders or Fabric Softeners
Irritation due to tampons
Tight Underwear or Tight fitting clothing
Non-breathable or synthetic underwear
An allergic reaction to soaps, spermicides, douches, latex in condoms or even (in rare cases) semen.
Infectious vaginitis can be caused by:
An STI such as Chlamydia, Genital Herpes or Gonorrhea
What Does Vaginitis Look Like?
Vaginitis can cause your vulva to be red and inflamed. It can cause an unusual or unpleasant odour and may also produce thickened vaginal discharge that can be white, cream or even green in colour or have the consistency of cottage cheese.
Here are some common signs and symptoms associated with vaginitis:
Vaginitis can cause changes in vaginal discharge. The discharge may appear:
Thick and white (like cottage cheese) in the case of a yeast infection.
Thin and grayish-white with a fishy odor in the case of bacterial vaginosis.
Yellow-green and frothy with a strong odor in the case of trichomoniasis.
Watery or clear in some cases of non-infectious vaginitis.
Itching and Irritation:
Vaginitis often leads to itching and irritation in the vaginal area. It may be mild to severe and can cause discomfort and a persistent urge to scratch.
Redness and Swelling:
The vaginal tissues may become red, swollen, or irritated due to the inflammation associated with vaginitis. The degree of redness and swelling can vary depending on the severity of the condition.
Pain or Discomfort:
Some women may experience pain or discomfort in the vaginal area, especially during urination or sexual intercourse. The severity of pain can vary from mild to severe, depending on the cause and individual sensitivity.
The Symptoms of Vaginitis
Symptoms of Non-infectious Vaginitis include:
An itchy and irritated vagina
Pain when urinating
Unusual vaginal discharge (different smell, different texture than usual)
swelling around the genitalia
How to Treat Vaginitis:
The treatment of vaginitis very much depends on what is causing the inflammation. For infectious vaginitis that is caused by a STI, appropriate testing to ascertain the STI needs to occur before antibiotics or other medication can be described.
Vaginitis should most certainly be checked out by your Doctor to find out what is causing the inflammation.
With proper medical treatment, vaginitis should only last two weeks or less.
By now, we've all heard about the infamous hot flushes, mood swings, and those sleepless nights that menopause can bring. But today, we’re setting sail into uncharted waters, exploring the mysterious, the lesser-known, and the downright quirky symptoms of menopause. Fasten your seat belts (or better yet, pour yourself a cuppa or a glass of bubbly) because we're diving deep!
You've done it! Made an appointment with a Menopause Doctor about your Perimenopausal symptoms! That's great - and a huge step in the right direction. But what should you expect during the appointment - and what will the Doctor ask you? It's always good to be prepared before your first appointment.