What is Vaginitis?

Vaginitis is a term that refers to any infection or inflammation of the vagina. It may cause itching, irritation and abnormal vaginal discharge.

There are various kinds of vaginitis, each with its own causes and symptoms. Vaginitis may clear up on its own within a few days. If it does not, call a physician.
CU OB/GYN’s Vaginitis Clinic

Types of vaginitis

Yeast infections

Yeast (or candida) infections of the vagina are the most common form of vaginitis. Yeast infections occur when too much of the fungus Candida albicans grows in the vagina.

Symptoms include a thick, white vaginal discharge that may look like cottage cheese. The discharge can be watery, and may have no smell. Yeast infections can cause itching or irritation in the vagina and vulva (the area outside the vagina).

Bacterial vaginosis

Bacterial vaginosis is caused by an overgrowth of the bacteria that are usually present in the vagina. It is the most common vaginal infection in women of reproductive age.

Symptoms of bacterial vaginosis include a milky vaginal discharge that may have a “fishy” odor. Many women with bacterial vaginosis have no symptoms, and may only find out during an annual gynecologic exam.

Non-infectious vaginitis

Non-infectious vaginitis is often caused by an allergic reaction or irritation from a man-made product or activity, such as douching, vaginal sprays, spermicidal products, soaps, detergents, or fabric softeners. It can cause burning, itching, or vaginal discharge even if there is no infection.

Trichomoniasis

Trichomoniasis is a sexually transmitted disease that is caused by a single-cell parasite. Symptoms include burning during urination, vaginal itching and soreness of the vulva or vagina and vulva. Many women with trichomoniasis have no symptoms.

Diagnosis & treatment of vaginitis

A health care provider should diagnose which type of vaginitis is present, and can advise the proper treatment of the infection.

Yeast infections are often treated with an anti-yeast cream, which is placed inside the vagina. Over-the-counter creams are available, but it is best to see a health professional if this is the first time yeast infection symptoms are displayed.

Bacterial vaginosis is treated with an antibiotic. Since there are no over-the-counter treatments for bacterial vaginosis, it’s important to see a doctor for a prescription.

Trichomoniasis is treated by antibiotics, prescribed by a health care professional.

Non-infectious vaginitis can be treated by discontinuing use of the product causing the allergic reaction. A doctor can also prescribe medicated cream to alleviate symptoms until the reaction goes away.

Other vaginitis risks & concerns

A health care provider must treat sexually transmitted forms of vaginitis right away. Avoid all sexual contact until treatment is completed to avoid spreading the infection.

A woman’s sexual partner(s) will need to seek treatment too.

Get help at CU OB/GYN’s vaginitis clinic. Request an appointment