Peer Health

Vaginitis

Vaginitis is the term used to encompass many of the specific disease which can infect a woman’s genital area. Microscopic organisms can cause symptoms such as severe genital itching and unusual vaginal discharge. Although it is not usually dangerous, it can be very uncomfortable, especially during intercourse. However, you may not know that you or your partner is carrying the source of the infection and you may pass the infection back and forth indefinitely. Precautions against recurrent vaginitis include avoiding tight-fitting nylon clothing, such as pantyhose, which is conducive to the growth of fungus. You should avoid strong soap and bath oil or bubbles when vaginitis is present.

Candida Albicans

One form of vaginitis is caused by a common microscopic yeast fungus called Candida albicans. Pregnant women, those with diabetes, taking birth control pills, or taking antibiotics are particularly susceptible to this form of vaginitis (antibiotics kill bacteria which normally help control yeast growth). It is possible to contract the fungus through sexual intercourse, although it is not necessarily sexually transmitted.

Trichomoniasis

A second form of vaginitis is Trichomoniasis, characteristically associated with a malodorous yellow-green discharge and often a burning sensation, itching, redness, and swelling. The majority of women with such vaginitis have severe symptoms at some time. The infection may be transmitted by either heterosexual or homosexual contact.

Non-Specific Vaginitis

An infection of a woman’s genital area which is not Candida albicans or Trichomoniasis, or a sexually transmitted disease, is described as non-specific vaginitis; any symptoms of pain, unusual discharge, or itching should receive medical attention.

Not all vaginal discharges are caused by infection. Usually a gynecological exam can determine if the cause is an infection of the cervix. However, in some women, oral contraceptives may cause an increase in the mucous produced by a woman’s body, as well as a tampon or diaphragm left in the vagina.