"Vaginitis", or the inflammation of the lining of the vagina, is a very common benign condition. When this condition becomes aggravated, it may indicate the presence of a bacterial or fungal infection, and you should visit your doctor.
What are the symptoms?
Sometimes vaginitis is nothing more than a mild feeling of inflammation in the vagina, which usually disappears by itself. Some causes of mild vaginitis include wearing tight clothes and the use of non-specific creams, soap, or sprays in the genital area.
When vaginitis is associated with symptoms such as smelly discharge, mixed with blood, unbearable itching, a burning sensation while urinating, or pain during sexual intercourse, it may be a sign of a fungal infection or bacterial vaginosis. These various infections are often due to an imbalance of the vaginal flora. Again, in this case, you should go and see your doctor.
What are the most common vaginal infections?
There are 2 major types of vaginal infections:
- Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) is the most common cause of vaginitis. It occurs when the normal balance of vaginal flora is disrupted due to an overgrowth of certain bacteria. The primary symptom of BV is a thin and grey discharge characterized by a fishy smell, which becomes more noticeable after intercourse. This condition is usually caused by the use of scented soap or vaginal sprays or after a course of antibiotics.
- Yeast Infection also referred to as fungal infection or thrush is the second most common cause of vaginitis. It results from the overgrowth of a fungus called Candida. Its symptoms resemble those of any other vaginal infection: vaginal swelling, redness, intense itching and pain during intercourse. Yeast infection causes a change in vaginal discharge: it becomes white, thick and “curdled”. Common risk factors include using non-specific feminine products or taking contraceptive pills and antibiotics that destroy good bacteria and allow the yeast to grow.
What is a urinary tract infection?
At times, you may experience symptoms that make you believe you have a vaginal infection but are in fact the signs of a urinary tract infection. Urinary tract infections result from different bacteria, including “E. coli”, found in faeces. Due to the very close proximity of the bowel, vagina and urethra openings, it's easy for bacteria to move from the anus to the urethra and travel up the urinary tract, causing infection. The symptoms of a urinary tract infection include a burning sensation when passing urine, frequent need to urinate, stomach pain, cloudy urine as well as fever.
You shouldn’t worry when you experience symptoms of vaginitis or urinary tract infections, because they can be easily treated if you go see your doctor.