Vaginal infections or vaginitis describe the most common medical concerns women have in the area of their reproductive organs. Vaginitis is an inflammation of the vagina that creates discharge, odor, irritation, or itching. It is difficult to diagnose because vaginitis has many causes. Women use a variety of over-the-counter medications to treat the itching, discharge, and discomfort of these conditions.
- The vagina creates its own environment and maintains a balance among the normal bacteria found there and the hormonal changes in a woman’s body. Vaginitis occurs when the vaginal ecosystem has been changed by certain medications such as antibiotics, hormones, contraceptive preparations (oral and topical), douches, vaginal medication, sexual intercourse, sexually transmitted diseases, stress, and change in sexual partners.
- Some vaginal infections are transmitted through sexual contact, but others such as yeast infections probably are not. Vaginitis often is caused by infections, which create distress and discomfort. Some infections are associated with more serious diseases.
- The most common vaginal infections are these. Their causes are quite different, their symptoms similar, and treatment varies.
- Bacterial vaginosis
- Vaginal yeast infection
- Many women often mistakenly think they have a "yeast infection" and treat themselves when, in fact, they have a similar vaginal infection that will not respond to self-treatment with over-the-counter yeast medications.
- The important thing is not to guess but to recognize the symptoms if you develop a vaginal infection and see your health care provider for precise testing and to get the most appropriate and effective treatment right away.