What is vaginitis? itching, burning

Qu'est-ce que la vaginite ? démangeaisons, brûlures

What is vaginitis?

Vaginitis is an inflammation of the vagina, usually associated with irritation of the vulva, known as vulvovaginitis.

It may be caused by irritation of the vagina, or by a vaginal infection due to a fungus, bacteria, virus or parasite.

It is 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, vaginal mycosis is 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.)
  • Viruses (genital herpes, etc.)

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 or a lack of lubrication during intercourse, the use of certain contraceptive methods, or the 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 also 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 itself as :

  • Itching, burning sensations in the vulva and vagina,
  • Vaginal discharge of unusual texture/smell/color/quantity: often whitish, thick and slimy if caused by a fungus, fluid, copious, foul-smelling and gray or yellow if caused by bacteria. Finally, foamy and greenish if it's a parasite. However, this does not occur if vaginitis is non-infectious in origin,
  • Pain during intercourse,
  • Pain or difficulty in urinating,
  • Swollen, red and painful outer labia, and sometimes 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, gynaecologist or midwife, especially if you're also suffering from fever and abdominal pain.

In fact, vaginitis can develop into an infection that spreads to 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 health professional will therefore first examine the vulva, and may also observe the vagina with a speculum, or take vaginal secretions to identify the germ causing the infection.

What treatments are available to combat 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 treated, as some infections can be transmitted during sexual intercourse.

In the case of irritation, it's 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 advise you to :

  • Avoid wearing synthetic underwear, as this increases perspiration and maceration, which is conducive to the development of germs and promotes vaginal mycoses. Prefer cotton
  • Don't stay in a wet bathing suit for too long.
  • Change after sport
  • Avoid 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!
  • When using the toilet, wipe from front to back, not the other way round.
  • Do not douche internally, as the vagina cleans itself.
  • Dry the vulva thoroughly after washing
  • Apply vegetable oil to the vulva if necessary, after each cleansing.
  • Avoid using tampons and pads, preferring organic cotton menstrual panties 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 the appearance of fungus. 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.

To find out more about vaginitis, but also about perineal and vulvar pain, you can visit the website of the association Périnée Bien-Aimé, as well as its Instagram account @perinee_bienaime.

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The information contained in the articles on www-elia-lingerie.com is general information only. Although reviewed by health professionals, this information is not error-free, does not constitute health advice or consultation, and is not intended to provide a diagnosis or suggest a course of treatment. Under no circumstances may this information be used as a substitute for medical advice or consultation with a healthcare professional. If you have any questions, please consult your doctor.