Wednesday, 5 September 2007

Vaginal infections... the scratch behind the itch


Vaginitis are various conditions that infect or inflame the vagina. Vulvovaginitis are infections in both the vulva and vagina. Infections can be caused by bacteria, viruses, yeast or allergies caused by chemicals found in clothes, creams or sprays. Vaginitis can also be a result of sexual intercourse.


Some women experience no symptoms and other women a wide variety of them. Common symptoms of vaginitis are however the following:

* abnormal vaginal discharge with a foul or unpleasant smell

* burning sensation during urination

* Itching of the vagina

* pain or discomfort during intercourse


The 6 most common types of vaginal infections are:

  • Candida or "yeast" infections
  • Bacterial vaginosis
  • Trichomoniasis vaginitis
  • Chlamydia vaginitis
  • Viral vaginitis
  • Non-infectious vaginitis


Vaginal discharge is normal and is usually a clear or slightly cloudy, non-irritating and odour-free discharge. The consistency and amount of discharge changes during the menstrual cycle.

Some times the discharge may be little and watery

and other times it may be more severe and thicker, all of which can be normal.

An abnormal discharge starts when the discharge irritates or burns your body, or when it has a strong smell.

Should you experience a difference in your discharge it may be time to go see a doctor.

Normal Vaginal Discharge

Glands in the vagina and cervix produce the fluid that flows out of your vagina, taking with it the old lining of cells in the vagina. This helps to keep the vagina clean, as well as to lubricate it and keep it free from infections.

Healthy vaginal discharge does not have a bad smell and usually has no odour at all. It also often appears clear or milky when it dries on clothing. You may occasionally notice white spots or a normal vaginal discharge that is thin and stringy in appearance.

Changes in your vaginal discharge may be du to the following:

* Menstrual cycle;

* Stress;

* Pregnancy;

* Medication;

* Sexual excitement;

* ovulation;

* diet

Abnormal vaginal discharge may be indicated by the following:

* change of colour, consistence or amount of discharge;

* constant increased discharge;

* itching, rashes or discomfort;

* burning during urination;

* blood in the discharge when it is not your menstrual cycle;

* a cottage-cheese consistency;

* foul odour with a yellowish, greenish or grayish white discharge.

Any of these signs may be a reason to consult your doctor.


Yeast infections are probably the type of vaginitis most women are familiar with.

They are caused by a species of fungus called Candida. Candida is normally found in small numbers in the vagina, mouth and digestive tract.

Yeast infections produce a thick, white discharge with the consistency of cottage cheese (please note that not all women experience this discharge during Candida). Yeast infections can also cause the vagina and surrounding areas to by red and itchy.

Yeast infections are not considered a sexually transmitted disease. The risk of contracting a yeast infection can be increased by the following:

* antibiotics (this can be prevented by taking probiotics while on your antibiotic course);

* Uncontrolled diabetes which causes an excess of sugar in the vagina and urine;

* Pregnancy;

* Birth control pills;

* Immune disorders;

* Corticosteroid therapy.

How can you prevent yeast infections? The following tips are helpful, but of course not full proof:

- wear loose clothes of natural fibres;

- do not wear tight pants;

- don’t douche and try not to use too much feminine deodorant;

- try not to use deodorized tampons or pads;

- don’t stay in wet clothes;

- minimise hot baths;

- eat lots of yogurt (for those good probiotics);

Please go see your doctor or pharmacist should you be experiencing a yeast infection, as medication quickly and painlessly clears it up.


This is probably the most common type of vaginal infection found in women.

It is caused by a combination of bacteria, which overgrow much in the way Candida can. The reason for this overgrowth is unknown.

Bacterial vaginosis is also not considered as a sexually transmitted disease, but is more common in sexually active women.

The symptoms of BV are the following:

- white or discoloured discharge;

- discharge that smell fishy (often strongly after sex);

- painful urination;

- itching and burning of the vagina.

However, up to 50% of woman with bacterial vaginosis do not display any symptoms.

The most common treatments for BV are metronidazole (Flagyl) and clindamycin (Cleocin).



Trichomoniasis are caused by tiny single-celled organism that create an infection in the vagina and cause a frothy, greenish-yellow discharge. This discharge will often have a foul odour. It can also cause itching and soreness of the vagina and vulva, with burning during urination. Your partner will also require treatment.


Women with Chlamydia infection often do not have symptoms which makes diagnosis difficult. Sometimes a vaginal discharge is present, but not in all cases. More often there might be light bleeding (especially after sex) and there might be pain in the abdomen and pelvis. Chlamydial vaginitis is most often found in women between 18 and 35 years of age with multiple sexual partners.

Left untreated Chlamydia causes damage to the reproductive organs and can make falling pregnant very difficult. Your sexual partner/s will also have to be treated.

Herpes simplex

The main symptom of herpes is pain with lesions or sores visible on the vulva or vagina (sometimes deep inside the vagina). There is no cure for Herpes, but it may be dormant indefinitely.

Humanpapilloma virus

This is also referred to as genital warts (which are warts that grow in the vagina, rectum, vulva or groin.

When visible these wars appear white to gray in colour (but can also be pink or purple).


Gonorrhea is caused by bacteria and can be treated with an antibiotic, although your partner will also have to be treated. The following can be symptoms of gonorrhea:

  • A yellowish discharge from the genitals
  • Burning sensations during urination
  • Men may begin to have enlarged testicles with pain
  • If rectum becomes infected, it may bleed, become very irritated, and sore

No comments: