Vaginal infections, or vaginitis is an inflammation of the vagina that creates discharge, odor, irritation, or itching. It is difficult to diagnose because vaginitis has many causes. Women use a variety of over the counter medications to treat the itching, discharge, and discomfort of these conditions.
The vagina creates its own environment and maintains a balance among the normal bacteria found there and the hormonal changes in a woman’s body. Vaginitis occurs when the vaginal ecosystem has been changed by certain medications such as antibiotics, hormones, contraceptive preparations (oral and topical), douches, vaginal medication, sexual intercourse, sexually transmitted diseases, stress, and change in sexual partners.
Some vaginal infections are transmitted through sexual conduct, but others such as yeast infections probably are not. Vaginitis means inflammation and is often caused by infections, but may be due to hormonal changes (especially when a woman is going through menopause) or due to trauma in young girls. Some infections are associated with more serious diseases.
Three vaginal infections are the most common. Their causes are quite different, their symptoms similar, and treatment varies.
- Bacterial vaginosis
- Vaginal yeast infection