Vaginitis; Inflammation of the vagina (soreness and swelling). Most women have been there. You’re distracted and squirming in your chair because it doesn’t feel right down there. Perhaps there’s a smell that’s a little, well, funkier, than usual. You want to do something to make it stop, now. Although it can be darned uncomfortable, it’s not the end of the world.
You could have an infection caused by bacteria, yeast, or viruses. Chemicals in soaps, sprays, or even clothing that come in contact with this area could be irritating the delicate skin and tissues. It’s not always easy to figure out what’s going on, though. You’ll probably need your doctor’s help to sort it out and choose the right treatment. The treatment needed depends on the type of vaginitis a woman has. Some women try to treat symptoms on their own rather than see a doctor, but an exam and lab tests are needed to learn the specific type of vaginitis.
When discharge has a very noticeable odor, or burns or itches, that’s likely a problem. You might feel an irritation any time of the day, but it’s most often bothersome at night. Having sex can make some symptoms worse.
There’s no need to see your Doctor if you’ve been diagnosed with thrush in the past and your symptoms are the same. If you’re sure you have thrush and you’ve treated it successfully in the past with over-the-counter medication, you can treat it yourself again.
Treatment for vaginitis depends on what’s causing it. Fungal infections are usually treated with antifungal medicines, and bacterial infections are usually treated with antibiotics.
If your vaginitis is caused by thinning of the lining of the vagina after the menopause (atrophic vaginitis), hormone replacement therapy (HRT) may be recommended. HRT replaces the female hormones, oestrogen and progesterone.
As women, personal hygiene is very important. Keeping your genital area clean and dry, take a warm bath rather than a hot one and use plain, unperfumed soap to clean your genital area (the vagina cleans itself with natural secretions); dry yourself thoroughly.
Also, try to avoid anything that causes dampness in the region. That means promptly change your underwear after exercising or removing bathing suits as soon as you are out of the water. Always wipe from front to back after using the bathroom. Doing it the opposite way increases the chances of bacteria from your butt region moving to your vaginal region, which can cause a urinary tract infection. Wipe the same way for washing and showering. Try to wash your hands before using the toilet or at least before wiping (especially in public). When you are out and about in public, your hands are exposed to a lot of bacteria so washing your hands can avoid passing germs from your hands to your genital region as well. When there’s no air flow to the vagina, bacteria and fungi can collect and grow in the moist, dark folds. This is a common cause of vaginal yeast infections. Avoid wearing undies to bed.
The above write up is published on our site courtesy of Dr. Maureen Ona-Igbru.
Dr Maureen is a medical doctor with many years in practice and has an undying passion for dissemination of health knowledge to the public. One striking feature that cuts across all her articles is the ability to present a complex medical condition in an easy to understand manner for the readers.
N.B. Illustrations added by site admin, and all illustrations courtesy of their respective copyrights owners.