Vaginitis

Menstuff® has compiled information on the issue of vaginitis.

What is vaginitis?
How common is vaginitis?
How can I get vaginitis - As a Woman?
How can I get vaginitis - As a Man?
What are the signs or symptoms of vaginitis?
How can I find out if I have vaginitis?
What can I do to reduce my risk of getting vaginitis?
What is the treatment for vaginitis?
Do I need to talk to my partner about vaginitis?
Should I talk to my health care provider about vaginitis?
Where can I get more information?
Resources
Related issues:
A Thousand Beautiful Vaginas , Talking With Kids About Tough Issues, AIDS, Bacterial Vaginosis, Blue Balls, Chancroid, Chlamydia, Condoms, Contraception, Crabs, Genital Herpes, Genital Warts, Gonorrhea, Hepatitis A, B, C, D, E, Impotency, Nongonococcal Urethritis, Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, Reproduction, STDS, Syphilis, Trichomoniasis, Yeast Infection

What is vaginitis?

Vaginitis is a name for swelling, itching, burning or infection in the vagina that can be caused my several different germs. The most common kinds of vaginitis are bacterial vaginosis (BV) and yeast, a fungus. Sometimes trichomoniasis (trich, pronounced "trick") is called vaginitis too. Trichomoniasis is caused by a parasitic protozoa called Trichomonas vaginalis.

How common is vaginitis?

Vaginitis is very common. If you are like most women, you will have some kind of vaginitis at least once in your life.

How can I get vaginitis - As a Woman?

The healthy vagina has a balance of many different kinds of bacteria. "Good" bacteria help keep the vagina a little-bit acidic. This keeps "Bad" bacteria from growing too fast. A healthy vagina makes a mucus-like discharge that may look clear or a little milky, depending on the time of a woman's monthly cycle. When the balance between the "Good" bacteria and the "Bad" bacteria is upset, "Bad" bacteria grow too fast and cause infections. Discharge may have a funny color or a bad smell. Sometimes these "Bad" bacteria and other germs that cause vaginitis can be spread through sex. (Harvard Medical School disagrees with this. Editor)

In women, the most common place for a yeast infection is the vagina (vaginitis). Three-quarters of women will develop a yeast infection at some point in their lives. These infections often are triggered by antibiotics or hormonal changes, although many appear to occur for no reason at all.

Other things that can upset the balance of the vagina are:

 

How can I get vaginitis - As a Man?

In contrast, it is somewhat unusual for men to develop a genital yeast infection. Yeast can grow on the shaft of the penis (balanitis), most commonly in uncircumcised men. Yeast also can grow in the folds of skin where the scrotum touches the legs. Usually the affected area will be red, warm, itchy or painful, and often a strong-smelling discharge will be present.

In most cases, there is a particular reason why a man develops a yeast infection. This might include poorly controlled diabetes, a weakened immune system, or poor hygiene. Occasionally, yeast will grow simply because the affected skin is warm and moist and does not have adequate time to "air out." However, there is no evidence that genital yeast infections (in either men or women) are transmitted by sexual contact. Most yeast skin infections are easily treated with a topical cream such as clotrimazole (Lotrimin AF) and good hygiene.

What are the signs or symptoms of vaginitis?

The signs or symptoms of vaginitis are different, depending on the germ that you have.

Signs or symptoms of:

How can I find out if I have vaginitis?

If you have symptoms of vaginitis, see your health care provider for a correct diagnosis. To help your provider find out what you have:

If you have sex less than 24 hours before the exam, use condoms.

What can I do to reduce my risk of getting vaginits?

What is the treatment for vaginitis?

The treatment will depend on which germ is causing the infection.

Do I need to talk to my partner about vaginitis?

This depends. Women who are not sexually active may develop BV or yeast infections. Remember that most of the time these infections are caused by an upset in the balance of bacteria that is normal in the vagina.

Trichomoniasis on the other hand is sexually transmitted and it will be important for sex partners to be treated so it is not passed back and forth. It is important for partners to be treated even if they do not show any symptoms.

Should I talk to my health care provider about vaginitis?

Yes. Vaginitis is rarely dangerous. In most women, it is easy to treat. But if you are pregnant, an infection may cause special problems for you and your baby. Talking with your health care provider is a good way to find out more information and to stay healthy.

Where can I get more information?

If you have additional questions about vaginitis, call the CDC National STD and AIDS Hotlines at 800.342.2437 or 800.227.8922. The hotlines are open 24 hours per day, seven days a week. For information in Spanish call 800.344.7432, 8:00 am to 2:00 am Eastern Time, seven days a week. For the Deaf and Hard of Hearing call 800.243.7889, 10:00 am to 10:00 pm Eastern Time, Monday through Friday. The hotlines provide referrals and more answers to your questions. Be sure to request free information on vaginitis when you call. www.ashastd.org/stdfaqs/vaginitis.html

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