What is vaginitis?
Vaginitis is an inflammation of the vagina, usually associated with irritation of the vulva.
It can sbe a vaginal irritation, or a vaginal infection caused by a fungus, bacteria, virus or parasite.
It's estimated that almost all women suffer from vaginitis at least once in their lives, but it can also occur in little girls.
What causes vaginitis?
Vaginitis is infectious in about 2 out of 3 cases:
In 50% of cases, it s's a vaginal mycosis caused by a fungus, usually candida albicans. Mycoses are therefore often of intestinal origin, or occur following the use of antibiotics, estrogen-progestogens, pregnancy, diabetes, anemia, etc.
Vaginitis can also be caused by parasites (Trichomas, etc.: often transmitted by water, toiletries and during intercourse).
Bacteria (especially Gardnerella, but also chlamydia, gonococcus, etc.)
Or viruses (genital herpes, ...)
Note that genital herpes, vaginitis caused by trichomonas, chlamydia, mycoplasma, gonococcus, etc., are all sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
However, vaginitis is not always infectious in origin: it can be caused by irritation of the vaginal mucosa following the use of certain products unsuitable for intimate hygiene, lubricating gel, lack of lubrication during intercourse, the use of certain contraceptive methods, or repeated use of antimycotic products. Tampons can also cause vaginal discomfort. The same applies to menopausal women, as the menopause often leads to vaginal dryness due to reduced hormonal secretions.
Vulvitis can be caused by wearing synthetic or damp underwear for too long, tight-fitting pants that rub unpleasantly, or sanitary towels that tend to dry out and irritate the mucous membranes, unlike organic cotton menstrual panties. Excessive hygiene or the use of products unsuitable for the vulva can also be responsible for vulvar sensitivity. Finally, if you suffer from eczema, psoriasis or lichen, you may also be more prone to vaginitis, as may menopausal women, as mentioned above.
What are the symptoms of vaginitis?
Vaginitis often manifests as :
Itching and burning sensations in the vulva and vagina,
Vaginal discharge with an unusual texture/odour/colour/quantity: often whitish, thick and sticky s'there's a fungus, fluid, abundant, foul-smelling and grey or yellow s'there's a bacterium s'there's a parasite. Finally, frothy and greenish s'it s'is a parasite. However, this does not occur if vaginitis is of non-infectious origin,
Pain during intercourse,
Pain when urinating or difficulty urinating,
Swollen, red and painful outer lips, sometimes with vesicles
How is vaginitis diagnosed?
If you notice one or more of these symptoms, we recommend that you see a health professional, whether it's your GP, gynecologist or midwife, especially if you suffer from fever and abdominal pain at the same time.
Indeed, vaginitis can evolve into an infection that develops in other organs, such as the uterus or fallopian tubes, and this is a gynecological emergency. Bacterial vaginitis caused by chlamydia and gonococci, if poorly treated, can lead to peritonitis (inflammation of the peritoneum) and infertility.
The healthcare professional will first examine the vulva, and may also observe the vagina with a speculum lor collect vaginal secretions to identify the germ lcausing the infection.
What treatments are available for vaginitis?
Treatment depends on the type of infectious vaginitis involved. In most cases, local antimycotics or antibacterials are applied externally with a cream, or internally with one or more gynecological ovules. Oral medications may also be prescribed, depending on the case: antifungals for recurrent candidiasis, antiherpetics for genital herpes, antibiotics adapted to the germs responsible for vaginitis.
In some cases (he or she has symptoms), the sexual partner should also consult a doctor and be examined, or even treated, as certain infections can be transmitted during sexual intercourse.
SIn the case of irritation, it is advisable to remove any products that may contain allergens (shower gel/soap, condoms, anti-fungal products, intimate wipes, etc.) and apply vegetable oils such as sweet almond, jojoba, evening primrose or coconut to moisturize and reduce local discomfort.
How can vaginitis be prevented?
If you often suffer from vaginitis, we recommend :
Avoid wearing synthetic underwear, as this increases perspiration and maceration, which is conducive to the growth of germs and promotes vaginal mycoses. Prefer cotton
Don't stay too long in a wet bathing suit
Changing after sport
Avoid over-frequent intimate hygiene and the use of unsuitable products containing perfumes (only one vulval cleansing a day): the pH of the vagina is not the same as that of the skin. Soap should be applied to areas where there is or was hair, and no more!
In the bathroom, wipe from front to back, not the other way around
Do not douche internally as the vagina s'self-cleans'.
Dry the vulva well after washing
- Apply vegetable oil to the vulva for comfort, if needed, after each cleansing.
Avoid using tampons and pads, preferring organic cotton menstrual pants, and if you have no choice, changing them as often as possible.
Avoid a succession of antibiotic treatments, which tend to alter the vaginal flora and contribute to lthe appearance of fungi. If you must use these treatments, remember to take probiotics to replenish the vaginal flora.
Wear a condom as much as possible during intercourse to prevent the transmission of STIs. You can also have regular screening tests
- If infections are frequent, oral treatment is preferable. Don't hesitate to ask for a vaginal swab before starting treatment. This can be done by self-sampling.