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aginitis can be described as the infection or inflammation of the vagina

VAGINAL INFECTIONS (VAGINITIS)

OVERVIEW

The vagina is a functional organ of the female reproductive system. It is an elastic, muscular canal which connects the womb and cervix to the outside of the body. It receives the penis during sexual intercourse, acts as a channel through which blood flows from the womb during menstruation and during childbirth, the baby passes through the vagina.

A normal, healthy vagina contains bacteria and sometimes yeast without necessarily having an infection. Any alteration in the balance can lead to infection or inflammation of the vagina.

Vaginitis can be described as the infection or inflammation of the vagina. It’s a common condition and most women will experience it at least once in their lifetime.

Vulvovaginitis is the inflammation of both the vaginal and the vulva(external part of the female genitalia). It can affect women of all ages.

SYMPTOMS OF VAGINAL INFECTIONS

Not all vaginal infections produces symptoms. Some common symptoms include:

  • vaginal itching
  • change in the amount of vaginal discharge
  • pain during urination
  • foul-smelling odour
  • Change in colour of vaginal change
  • pain during intercourse

It’s worthy of note that the vagina cleanses itself by producing discharge that is clear or slightly cloudy. The discharge is devoid of smell or cause itching and the amount of discharge may vary depending on the phase of menstrual cycle.

CAUSES OF VAGINAL INFECTIONS

Common causes of vaginal infections include:

  • Bacterial infections. Certain bacteria are commonly found in your vagina. An overgrowth of these bacteria can cause bacterial vaginosis.
  • Yeast infections. Yeast infections are usually caused by a fungus called Candida albicans. Antibiotics can reduce the number of bacteria in your vagina. This reduction can lead to an overgrowth of fungi and cause an infection.
  • Trichomoniasis. Caused by a protozoan and it’s usually sexual transmitted.
  • Vaginal atrophy. usually common in postmenopausal women. This is due to reduced hormonal level which causes dryness and thinning of the vaginal.
  • Noninfectious vaginitis. Soaps, body washes, perfumes, and vaginal contraceptives can all irritate the vagina. This can cause inflammation.

Less commom causes includes; Gonorrhea, Chlamydia, Mycoplasma, Heroes and Poor hygiene.

BACTERIAL VAGINOSIS OR YEAST INFECTION

Bacterial vaginosis presents with

  • thin, gray or white discharge which may be obvious after sex
  • foul-smelling discharge (fishy odour)
  • pain(burning sensation) on urination
  • discomfort
  • no redness or inflammation of the vulva

Yeast infection/ Candidiasis presents with

  • a thick white discharge with a cottage cheese consistency.
  • pain or discomfort
  • burning sensation during sexual intercourse or urination
  • no vaginal odour
  • redness and inflammation of vulva

RISK FACTORS

Factors that increase the risk of developing vaginitis include:

  • Alteration in hormonal level, such as those associated with pregnancy, contraceptives or menopause.
  • Multiple sexual partners.
  • Unhygienic sexual practice
  • Having a STI
  • Some drugs e.g antibiotics and steroids
  • Use of spermicides for birth control
  • Uncontrolled diabetes
  • Use of hygiene products; vaginal spray or vaginal deodorant
  • Douching
  • Wearing damp or tightfitting clothing
  • Using an intrauterine device (IUD) for birth control

COMPLICATIONS

Untreated vaginal infections can lead to severe complications.

Vulvovaginitis is a lower genitourinary tract infection, once the infection gets to the cervix and spreads upward, it can cause higher vaginal infection leading to Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID). PID is one of the leading cause of infertility in females.

In pregnant women, symptomatic bacterial vaginosis may result in premature delivery and postpartum infections. Women with trichomoniasis or bacterial vaginosis are at a greater risk of acquiring sexually transmitted infections because of the inflammation caused by these disorders

TREATMENT OF VAGINAL INFECTIONS

It’s dependent on the cause of the infection:

  • Nitroimidazole antibiotics may be prescribed for a bacterial infection.
  • Antifungal creams or suppositories may be prescribed for a yeast infection.
  • Nitroimidazole antibiotics may be prescribed for trichomoniasis. Patient’s partner should be treated simultaneously and advised to abstain from sex throughout the duration of treatment.
  • Estrogen creams or tablets may be prescribed for vaginal atrophy.
  • Antihistamines should be given in cases of inflammation due to allergic reactions.

PREVENTION OF VAGINAL INFECTIONS

  • Maintain good hygeine.
  • Avoid douching. Repetitive douching disturbs the normal organisms that reside in the vagina and can actually increase the risk of vaginal infection.
  • Use of condoms to prevent STIs.
  • Wipe from front to back after using the toilet. this help prevent spread of fecal bacteria.
  • Avoid clothes that hold in heat and moisture
  • Wear cotton underwear and pantyhose with a cotton crotch.

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