The Most Common Types of Vaginitis and How to Avoid Them

Your vagina is a muscular canal that runs from your cervix to the outside of your body. It’s lined by a mucous membrane and is, on average, around 6-7 inches long. The only part of the vagina that you can see from the outside is the vaginal opening.

Inflammation in any part of the vagina is called vaginitis and is usually the result of an infection that presents as itching, burning, pain, and discharge. Vaginitis is a common condition; in fact, most women will experience it at least once in their lives.

So, what exactly causes vaginitis, what are the different types, and how can you avoid infection?

Common causes of vaginitis

Your vagina contains many organisms, like yeast and bacteria. These are vital for normal functionality, and any change in your normal balance of bacteria or yeast can lead to vaginitis. Common causes of an imbalance include:

With a change in the normal balance of bacteria and/or yeast, the lining of the vagina may become inflamed and infected, resulting in vaginitis and causing significant discomfort and irritation.

Types of vaginitis

Vaginitis can present in many forms, depending on its precise cause. The most common types of vaginitis include:

Atrophic vaginitis

The lining of your vagina gets thinner as estrogen levels decrease when you go through menopause, making it prone to inflammation and irritation.

Trichomonas vaginalis

Sometimes called trich, this form of vaginitis is caused by a sexually transmitted parasite. It can infect other parts of your urogenital tract as well, include the urethra.

Bacterial vaginosis

This form of vaginitis results from the overgrowth of normal bacteria in your vagina.

Candida albicans (yeast infection)

Candida is yeast that can lead to a fungal infection or vaginal thrush if it becomes out of balance in the vaginal canal. Your gut contains small amounts of candida, which is normally kept in line by normal gut bacteria.

You may have heard that probiotics and yogurt reduce vaginitis flare-ups and yeast infections, but there’s very little scientific evidence to support this.

Preventing vaginitis

If you suffer from regular yeast infections, you should avoid clothing that holds moisture and heat. For instance, wearing pantyhose with cotton panels, nylon underwear, tight jeans, or even spandex can all lead to yeast infections. It’s also important to practice good hygiene.

Heavily perfumed soaps and vaginal sprays can result in vaginal irritation, and the same goes for douching, which can cause irritation or may even make a vaginal infection difficult to diagnose. Safe sexual practices can also help prevent diseases from passing between partners.

If you’re close to menopause, you have low levels of estrogen, or you’ve had your ovaries removed, discuss the use of hormone pills or creams with Dr. Gigi Hafizi. These treatments can help to keep your vagina healthy and lubricated.

Finally, good health habits are a must. Attend your annual well-woman exams, and make sure you’re getting regular screenings for cervical cancer. If you have multiple sexual partners, you should also be screened for sexually transmitted diseases.

If you’re suffering from vaginitis, call Metropolitan Women’s Center in Annandale, Virginia today, or book an appointment online to discuss your treatment options.

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