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What Is Vaginitis?

Vaginitis is a condition that affects most women at some point in their lives, but it occurs more so during reproductive years. This common infection is very treatable through antibiotic medication or ointments, but it’s important to start a regiment early.

The Basic Symptoms of Vaginitis

The challenge of diagnosing vaginitis is that the symptoms may overlap with other conditions. The most obvious symptoms are:

  • Irritation of the genital area
  • Pain during intercourse
  • Painful urination
  • Inflammation of the outer area of the vagina
  • Unpleasant vaginal odor 

Vaginitis is a condition itself, but it is also a precursor to other conditions. For instance, these symptoms could be the start of a yeast infection. More seriously, they could also indicate a sexually transmitted disease or a urinary tract infection, among other things. While vaginitis is easily treated, treatment does depend on its cause. While you may be able to treat a mild yeast infection with over-the-counter medications, vaginitis can become more advanced, often requiring antibiotics. If these symptoms are due to a sexually transmitted, specific care from your gynecologist is crucial. 

Causes of Vaginitis

Women’s bodies are complex, and diagnosing the cause of vaginitis can be challenging. However, a few of the most common triggers for vaginitis include:

  • Bacterial vaginosis, an imbalance of the good and bad bacteria in the vagina, can cause vaginitis. However, what causes this imbalance isn’t exactly understood, though unprotected sex and douching are two common triggers.

  • Sexually transmitted diseases or infections, such as herpes or gonorrhea, can create an environment for vaginitis. Vaginitis is an initial symptom of these infections.

  • Hormonal changes can also cause vaginitis. In fact, some women are more prone to vaginitis when they are pregnant.

  • Ineffective hygiene practices can be to blame for this condition. Being sure to properly clean the area can help prevent vaginitis; just be sure to avoid douching.

  • Overly restrictive clothing can trigger vaginitis for many women, especially those already prone to yeast infections.

  • Wet or damp clothing is another surprising cause of vaginitis, so it’s important to change out of wet swimming clothes as soon as possible. The damp environment becomes a way for bacteria to thrive.

Vaginitis itself is not contagious, but if it is caused by an STI (sexually transmitted infection), that infection would be. If you or your partner have vaginitis and have multiple partners, it’s best to ensure that an STI isn’t the cause before engaging in sexual intercourse.

Discuss Symptoms of Vaginitis With a Doctor

Women are most at risk for having vaginitis from the ages of 15 to 44, but it can appear at a hormonally active age. Though it can be uncomfortable, it is very treatable with the help of your doctor.