Vaginitis is not only one of the most common women’s health issues, affecting as many as a third of women at some point, it also affects women of all age ranges. But while this issue may be common and cross-generational, vaginal inflammation can be a major source of discomfort for many of our Houston, Texas patients.
To help arm our patients with the information necessary to know when to expect vaginal inflammation and how we handle the issue, we are sharing some general information.
What is vaginitis?
When there is a change in the balance of yeast or bacteria in your vagina, it could cause your vaginal lining to become inflamed, which is vaginitis. Everything from changes in hormone levels, use of antibiotics, sexual intercourse, or douching can cause vaginitis.
There are three common forms of vaginitis:
- Bacterial vaginosis: an overgrowth of the naturally occurring bacteria in the vagina.
- Yeast infection: Caused by a fungus called Candida, if this yeast overgrows, it could cause vaginitis.
- Trichomoniasis: This form spreads through sex by a microscopic parasite.
- Atrophic: This form is the only one not caused by an infection but rather by low female hormone levels ( link to hormone page). It exhibits similar symptoms to the other forms, however.
How will I know if I have vaginitis?
There are a number of signs of vaginitis, so while this is not an exhaustive list, here are some key symptoms you should know:
- Changes in vaginal discharge
- Bacterial: Discharge will appear light grey and have a fishy odor.
- Yeast infection: Itching and cottage cheese-like discharge
- Trichomoniasis: Green/ yellow, frothy discharge.
- Itching or irritation in your vagina
- Pain while urinating
- Pain during sexual intercourse
How will you treat my vaginitis?
How we go about treatment for vaginal inflammation depends on your form of vaginitis. All but atrophic vaginitis we will treat only with pills. We treat atrophic vaginitis with estrogen in the form of a cream, ring, or tablet.
If you think you may be suffering from pre-menopause symptoms such as vaginal dryness and atrophy, we also have treatments for these conditions that can alter these symptoms and renew the collagen and stimulate new vessel growth in your vaginal area.
Since the medication we will prescribe varies per form of vaginitis, even if you think you know which one you are experiencing, it’s important to visit us once you begin exhibiting symptoms.
Many patients ask if they can treat a yeast infection with over-the-counter medications. We suggest contacting us first, especially if you have not experienced vaginitis before, before taking any medications.
Can I prevent vaginitis?
Preventing vaginitis is about avoiding doing certain things that may cause vaginal inflammation. It is not guaranteed you will be able to prevent vaginitis, especially depending on the form you exhibit, but these are good measures to take:
- Avoid using scented products in your vaginal region
- Don’t wear undergarments that are damp or too tight
- Don’t douche
- Avoid certain lubricants or condoms if you are allergic
- Don’t leave pads or tampons in for too long
With any women’s health issue, please do not hesitate to call us or schedule an appointment to discuss vaginitis.