(Copyright Parlay International)
Some time during their lives, most women will suffer from vaginitis, an infection or inflammation of the vagina. Sometimes vaginitis goes away without treatment. But if it doesn't, there are many medicines that cure it quickly. If you suspect vaginitis, bring it to your doctor's attention right away. Warning signs of vaginitis can include:
- Itching in the vaginal area
- Heavy discharge
- A burning feeling in the vaginal area
- An unpleasant odor
The usual causes
Finding the cause of your vaginitis is very important, since proper treatment depends on the specific cause. Your vagina normally houses small organisms visible only under a microscope. The natural acid-like surroundings of the vagina keep harmful organisms from taking over. If the balance among these organisms changes, your vagina may become infected or inflamed. Common organisms causing vaginitis are candidiasis (fungus or yeast infection), bacteria and trichomoniasis (from a one-celled organism called a protozoan).
Many things can cause changes in the acid nature of your vagina: taking antibiotics for other diseases, using irritating tampons, douching too often, being overweight, wearing pants that are too tight, being pregnant, having a baby recently, taking birth control pills and wearing undergarments without a cotton crotch. The organisms that cause vaginitis can also be passed back and forth between partners through sexual intercourse.
The medication prescribed for vaginitis depends on the kind of organism causing it. Sometimes vaginitis is caused by several different kinds of organisms. In that case, more than one type of medicine is required. You must follow your doctor's treatment schedule precisely, or the vaginitis may return quickly. Your doctor may advise you to stop having sex while under treatment and may suggest your sexual partner also undergo treatment to stop the back-and-forth spread of the disease.
You need not experience the discomfort of a vaginal infection if you follow these tips:
- Do not use irritating soaps, sprays, perfumed toilet paper or tampons or douches
- Wear tampons only during part of your period
- Wipe from front to back after a bowel movement to avoid spreading bacteria from the rectum to the vagina
- Always clean diaphragms and spermicide applicators thoroughly
- Wear loose-fitting pants and undergarments (they should have a cotton crotch)
- Practice good hygiene and keep your body healthy to fight infection
- Don't spend the day in a wet bathing suit. Change out of the suit after you are through swimming.