Vaginal infection (vaginitis) is the name given to infection or inflammation of the vagina. Vaginal infections are quite common and can be due to many different causes. They are not always transmitted sexually, they can also be seen in sexually inactive women. The most common symptoms of vaginitis are vaginal itching and burning, vaginal discomfort, redness and swelling around the vagina and vulva, vaginal discharge, odor, and pain during sexual intercourse. All or some of these findings may be found.
Basically, vaginal infections tend to develop when something affects the normal balance of bacteria and yeast in the vagina.
One of the most common types of vaginitis is bacterial vaginosis (BV). Overgrowth of certain bacteria naturally found in the vagina can cause BV. Although BV is not considered a sexually transmitted infection, sexual contact (hand-genital, oral and vaginal sex) can lead to an overgrowth of bacteria and increase the chances of developing BV. BV usually causes a thin grayish-white, greenish, or
yellow discharge. This discharge may have a foul unhealthy odor that becomes evident after intercourse. It may or may not be itchy.
Fungal (yeast) infections are also very common among vaginitis. Yeast infections are usually caused by a fungus called Candida albicans. Various factors such as antibiotics, hormonal changes, a weak immune system, and stress can all cause yeast overgrowth by reducing the number of antifungal bacteria in the vaginal flora. This overgrowth can cause yeast infection symptoms. It is usually accompanied by itching, pain and burning in the inner or outer genitals, swelling or edema may occur in the inner and outer lips. The discharge is typically feta-cheese-like and accompanied by severe itching.
Trichomonas infection is caused by an infectious agent, Trichomonas vaginalis, which is a protozoan parasite. Many women contract this disease through unprotected sex. It can also be transmitted from environments such as communal pools and bath water. Other rare (but possible) methods of
transmission include damp toilet seats, pools, and shared towels or damp clothing. Trichomonas infection typically causes both vaginal itching and a dead fish-like odor. Along with greenish-yellow frothy discharge, you may also notice swelling, irritation, and inflammation of the vagina and vulva. Symptoms of trichomonas infection include pain with intercourse, pain in the lower abdomen, and burning and pain during urination.
Atrophic vaginitis is not exactly an infection, but in this case due to estrogen deficiency, the risk of vaginal infection and urinary tract infection increases. This condition usually develops after menopause, but it can also happen while breastfeeding or any time you experience a drop in estrogen levels. Decreased hormone levels can cause vaginal thinning and dryness, which can lead to vaginal inflammation. Vaginal itching, burning, dryness and discharge are seen in atrophic vaginitis, so it can be confused with other infections.
Treatment for vaginal infections varies depending on what is causing the infection. Treatment of infections is with antibiotics or antifungal drugs. These drugs can be in the form of oral tablets / capsules, as well as suppositories or creams applied into the vagina. The first thing to do is to eliminate the causative pathogen with antibiotics. Then, in order to fulfill the flora, which is the healthy bacterial cover of the vagina, flora-regulating probiotics should be administered as suppositories or as oral capsules. There is no infection in atrophic vaginitis. Estrogen suppository/gel/tablets, lubricating and moisturizing gels are used to help treat severe vaginal dryness and irritation associated with atrophic vaginitis instead of antibiotics.
Sometimes we encounter long-lasting, resistant to treatments and frequently recurring infections. In these cases, the first thing to do is to detect the presence of sexually transmitted infections and apply co-treatment with the sexual partner. In our clinic, we apply vaginal laser and vaginal ozone treatments to resistant vaginal infections and achieve very successful results.
Vaginal shower. Washing the vagina with apple vinegar water can help regulate the flora. But the truth is that the vagina already has a self-cleaning property. Any washing increases the risk of vaginal infection if it is not dried well.
Soap, shower gel and perfume. Washing the vagina with soap and shower gel or spraying perfume can also disrupt its natural pH. It is okay to rinse your vulva and vagina with just water, any other product or fragrance can upset the balance of the vaginal flora, killing healthy bacteria and making infection more likely.
Tight or synthetic clothing. ‘Non-breathing’ underwear and nylon-sided daily pads can prevent airflow into the vagina, leaving the vagina moist, which increases infections. The habit of staying in a wet swimsuit, especially after swimming, can have a similar effect.
Detergent and fabric softener. Fragrant detergents and fabric softeners can also affect vaginal pH and contribute to yeast infections.
Your obstetrician can often make a diagnosis by looking at the appearance, color, and discharge of the inside of the vagina with a vaginal examination. However, in some cases, it is necessary to make a vaginal culture test. Especially in cases where there are no typical symptoms and sexually transmitted
infections are suspected, it is important to culture and to detect the antibiotic with the antibiogram method, which is guaranteed to have an effect on the reproducing agent.
• Avoid scented products such as tampons and pads. Do not use daily pads.
• Do not wash inside of the vagina, avoid vaginal deodorants and scented sprays or perfumes.
• Bathe in plain water only, as bubble baths and scented body gels can affect vaginal pH. Try to ensure that these products do not come into contact with the inside of the vagina (this includes the chlorine of swimming pools)
• Wear cotton underwear to allow the vagina to ventilate. Change your underwear at least once a day.
• Change sweaty sportswear as soon as possible to avoid excess moisture.
• Condoms protect against many sexually transmitted infections as a barrier method.