Vaginal Infections - Causes, Symptoms and Treatments
About Vaginal Infections
Vaginal infections and inflammations are scientifically referred to as Vaginitis. These infections can be a result of yeast, bacterial and viral agents, certain irritant chemicals in creams or sprays, and in some cases sexual contact.
A certain vaginal environment is maintained by the body with a balance between normal bacteria and the female hormones. Anything that upsets this balance can cause Vaginitis. Thus, vaginal infections could be caused by sexual intercourse, changing sexual partners, organisms exchanged during intercourse, medications such as vaginal medications and antibiotics, oral and topical contraceptives, stress and sexually transmitted diseases.
Common Vaginal Infections
There are three types of vaginal infections which are fairly common. The symptoms for each are fairly similar. Thus, to avoid an incorrect self-diagnosis, it is best to identify the symptoms correctly and consult a health practitioner for a medical diagnosis.
The three common vaginal infections are:
- Bacterial Vaginosis
- Vaginal Yeast Infection
Let’s examine the causes of each of the afore-mentioned vaginal infections separately.
Bacterial Vaginosis (BV)
A change in the normal vaginal bacteria results in Bacterial Vaginosis. The risk factors for this infection include douching, sexual intercourse, frequently changing sexual partners, pregnancy and intra uterine devices. Bacterial Vaginosis cannot be transferred through swimming pools, bedding or toilet seats.
Vaginal Yeast Infections
This infection is caused by the fungus Candida albicans. If left untreated for too long, it can spread to other parts of the body including the heart valves and the skin. Yeast Infections can result in severe health conditions in those people who have a weak immune system, including HIV positive individuals, diabetics, pregnant women and those who take steroids.
Vaginal Yeast Infections can be caused by diabetes, using antibiotics, any biological change that causes hormone fluctuations such as menopause and pregnancy, excessive alcohol consumption, weak immune system, using douches, and wearing tight or non-cotton underwear which creates conditions of heat and high moisture build up. Vaginal Yeast infections are not classified as sexually transmitted infections, however some men do experience itching and penile rash after intercourse with an infected partner.
This infection, caused by the parasite Trichomonas vaginalis, affects the urinary and genital tract. It is a sexually transmitted disease which affects both men (urethra) and women (vagina.
Vaginal Infections Symptoms
Even though all these infections have common symptoms including vaginal itching, discharge and burning, they do have some differences which can help you to diagnose the infection and treat it correctly. Remember that clear, white or slightly yellow colored vaginal discharge is considered normal. If the discharge is being produced in increased or decreased amounts, has a foul smell, varying consistency or an unusual green color, there is a definite presence of a vaginal infection.
While some women may experience no symptoms, others experience itching and burning during urination and along the outside of the vaginal area. In some women, Bacterial Vaginosis causes a grey or white, thin discharge which has a strong odor.
Vaginal Yeast Infection
This infection results in genital itching, and may cause painful intercourse and urination. Some women also report the production of a thick, grayish white discharge.
This sexually transmitted disease is sometimes confused for urinary tract infection due to the burning that accompanies urination. Symptoms appear within four to twenty days after the initial parasitic exposure. Some women may experience pain during intercourse, a foul smelling, frothy gray or yellowish-green discharge, and genital itching and burning.
If you experience pain (especially stomach and back pain), fever, vomiting, foul smelling discharge or yellowish green discharge, you should seek medical help.
Vaginal infection treatments are based on pelvic exams conducted by your health practitioner, culture swabs, blood tests or urine tests.
Depending upon a number of factors including the duration, recurrence and severity of the infection, your health practitioner will prescribe vaginal medications to be taken as pills or shots.
The best option is to consult your health provider as soon as you notice any of the symptoms mentioned in the article, so that the vaginal infection can be diagnosed correctly and treated effectively.