One of the most common problems faced by women, especially during the summer period, is the inflammation of the vagina or otherwise common called as vaginitis. Although vaginitis does not seem to be a serious condition, however, many times the treatment is rather than easy. This is due to the anatomy of the area and the complexity of the natural microflora of the vagina.
What is vaginitis
The vaginitis is a condition that includes vaginal inflammations and infections of diverse etiology. It is caused by microorganisms that disrupt the flora of the vagina, such as fungi, bacteria, trichomoniasis, chlamydia, mycoplasma and viruses. The most frequently occurring infections involve anaerobic bacteria and fungi such as Candida Albicans and Gardnerella vaginalis respectively. The inflammation can be located either on the outer area of the vagina (vulva) or in the endometrium or in the vagina. The woman's vagina is normally colonized by symbiotic microorganisms (microflora) which prevent pathogenic bacteria to enter and grow. When normal microflora is disturbed, then the number of pathogenic microorganisms increase, pH of vagina is changed (normal pH≥4.7) leading to the onset symptoms of vaginitis.
Vaginitis symptoms vary depending on the cause. The most common signs and symptoms are:
- Local irritation
- Burning sensation
- Vaginal dryness or excessive secretion fluids
- Pain during sexual intercourse (dyspareunia) or urinating (dysuria)
- Light vaginal blood spotting.
There are cases, particularly in fungal infections, where vaginitis is asymptomatic.
Because the symptoms of vaginitis are common, the differentiation of the cause and the proper diagnosis by the gynecologist is very important for the treatment of vaginitis.
If the cause of vaginitis is because of yeast overgrowth, typically are administered oral antifungal medication, antifungal suppositories or creams. As the vagina normally is colonized by lactobacilli, which protect the body against pathogens, in case of yeast infection vaginal lactobacilli suppositories can also be administered since they can contribute in quicker restoration and balance of vaginal microflora (Eva lactic, Eco vag etc.).
Usually, bacterial vaginosis is a polymicrobial infection. Treatment of bacterial infection is done with administration of antibiotic medication and suppositories orally and/or vaginally respectively, or by using intravaginal antibacterial cream.
Vaginitis is mainly characterized by a disturbance of the vaginal pH. Commercially there are available intravaginal cleaners which help to balance the acidity of the vagina. These cleaners are at various pH values with antiseptic properties, depending on the cause of contamination, and can be used in parallel with the respective treatment recommended by the gynecologist. For bacterial contamination acidic pH<4.7 is used and for fungal contamination pH>4. Moreover, as the hygiene of the vaginal area is the cornerstone of vaginal health, special cleaning vaginal soaps should be used. These soaps nourish and soothe the vaginal area without disturbing the natural pH and without causing dryness. In case of severe dryness there are vaginal gels that relieve dryness and help in vaginal lubrication.
Simple everyday tips to prevent vaginitis are:
- Use special sensitive area cleaners that do not disturb the normal feminine microflora.
- Be aware of contamination by bacteria from perianal area.
- Hand wash before and after cleaning.
- Proper care of the sensitive area, particularly during the days of the period.
- After the end of period, you can preventively use vaginal suppositories with lactobacilli for the restoration and strengthening of the local microflora.
- Use condoms during sexual intercourse.
- If you take antibiotic medication, in parallel you should consume dairy products or use intravaginal lactobacilli suppositories to prevent fungal contamination.
- Oral probiotic supplementation may be useful, especially in case off yeast infections.
In any case, consult your gynecologist for proper and in time treatment of vaginitis.