V is for Vaginitis

i. What is vaginitis?                                                                               

Vaginitis is inflammation of the vagina and can be the result of an imbalance in the bacteria and yeast that are meant to be in the vagina normally, it can be due to an infection (bacteria, virus or parasite) that is not normal for the vagina or it can be due to an irritant.

ii. What are the symptoms of vaginitis?                                    

Discomfort in the vaginal area such as itching, burning, swelling and tenderness are common.  Vaginal discharge may appear different in terms of amount, texture, color and odor.

iii. What are the causes of vaginitis?                                                       

Aside from normal bacteria and yeast and abnormal bacteria such as gonorrhea and chlamydia, another common cause of vaginitis are sexually transmitted viruses, such as HSV (herpes) and HPV (human papilloma virus). These can present as sores (HSV) or warts (HPV) in the genital area and they can be painful. HSV can be treated, not cured, with antiviral medication which eases the pain, shortens the duration of the outbreak and can suppress future outbreaks. HPV can also remain in your system but most HPV infections resolve spontaneously, others can progress to precancerous and cancerous lesions, therefore, these should be monitored by your doctor. Another cause for vaginitis symptoms can be due to a sensitivity or an allergic reaction to soaps or detergents. The best way to remedy this is to remove the irritant.

iv.  How is vaginitis treated?                                                           

Treatment for vaginitis is tailored to the cause. Yeast is treated with an anti-fungal medications, bacteria are treated with antibiotics, viruses are often treated with antivirals and irritants are treated by avoiding exposure to them.

v.  How can I prevent vaginitis?                                                            

Avoid perfumed or harsh soaps in the vaginal area.  Douching should be avoided as it can irritate, hide or even spread an infection.  Clothing that doesn’t hold moisture is best.  Condom use with sex is the best method to prevent passing certain infection between sex partners.


Voilà does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and is not a medical provider. If you think you may have vaginitis, call your doctor.

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