Vaginal inflammation is a fairly common condition that affects most women at some point in their lives. It is uncomfortable and painful, and might cause burning sensation in the vaginal area. Understanding the signs and symptoms of vaginal inflammation is necessary for early detection and appropriate treatment.
The Channel 46 collaborated with Dr Thejaswini J, Consultant, Obstetrician & Gynaecologist, Motherhood Hospitals, who discusses the possible signs of vaginal inflammation, along with its causes and treatment.
What Is Vaginal Inflammation?
Vaginal inflammation, also known as vaginitis, refers to the inflammation of the vaginal tissues. It is often caused by an infection, an imbalance in vaginal pH levels, or a reaction to certain irritants. The most common types of vaginitis include bacterial vaginosis, yeast infection (vaginal candidiasis), and trichomoniasis.
6 Possible Signs Of Vaginal Inflammation
The following signs and symptoms may indicate the presence of vaginal inflammation:
- Burning Sensation: A prevalent symptom of vaginal inflammation is a burning or stinging sensation in the vaginal area. This discomfort can range from mild to severe and may worsen during urination or sexual intercourse.
- Itching and Irritation: Vaginal itching and irritation are frequently reported by women with vaginitis. This itchiness may be accompanied by redness and swelling of the vaginal tissues.
- Abnormal Vaginal Discharge: Changes in vaginal discharge are often observed in cases of vaginal inflammation. The discharge may become thicker, clumpy (resembling cottage cheese in the case of a yeast infection), or frothy (in the case of trichomoniasis). It may also have an unpleasant odour.
- Painful Urination: Some women with vaginal inflammation experience pain or a burning sensation while urinating. This discomfort is typically due to the inflammation affecting the urethra, which is located close to the vaginal opening.
- Painful Intercourse: Vaginal inflammation can cause discomfort or pain during sexual intercourse (dyspareunia). This pain is often described as a burning or stinging sensation and can significantly impact a woman’s sexual well-being.
- Vaginal Soreness: In more severe cases of vaginitis, women may experience vaginal soreness or tenderness. The vaginal tissues may feel raw or sensitive to touch.
6 Causes of Vaginal Inflammation
- Infections: Bacterial vaginosis, yeast infections, and trichomoniasis are the most common infections associated with vaginal inflammation. These infections occur due to an overgrowth of certain microorganisms in the vaginal area.
- Hormonal Changes: Fluctuations in hormone levels, particularly oestrogen, can disrupt the balance of the vaginal ecosystem, leading to inflammation.
- Irritants: The use of certain hygiene products, such as scented soaps, bubble baths, and douches, can irritate the vaginal tissues and trigger inflammation.
- Allergic Reactions: Some women may be allergic to certain materials found in condoms, spermicides, or personal care products, leading to an allergic reaction and subsequent inflammation.
- Foreign Bodies: Introduction of foreign objects, such as tampons or forgotten diaphragms, into the vaginal canal can cause irritation and inflammation.
- Poor Hygiene: Inadequate hygiene practices, including improper wiping techniques or infrequent bathing, can disrupt the vaginal flora and contribute to inflammation.
How To Treat Vaginal Inflammation?
The treatment of vaginal inflammation depends on the underlying cause. It is essential to consult a healthcare provider for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment. The following treatment options commonly used are:
Antifungal Medications: Over the counter or prescription antifungal creams, suppositories, or oral medications are used to treat yeast infections.
Antibiotics: Prescription antibiotics are employed to treat bacterial vaginosis and certain sexually transmitted infections, such as trichomoniasis.
Steroids: In cases of severe inflammation, corticosteroids may be prescribed to reduce swelling and relieve symptoms.
- Lifestyle Modifications:
Good Hygiene Practices: Maintaining proper hygiene by regularly washing the vaginal area with mild, unscented soap and warm water can help prevent and manage vaginal inflammation.
Avoiding Irritants: Steer clear of scented products, harsh soaps, and douches, as they can disrupt the vaginal pH balance and worsen inflammation.
Sexual Practices: Using water-based lubricants during sexual activity and practicing safe sex can help reduce the risk of vaginal irritation and infection.
- Probiotics: Probiotic supplements or vaginal probiotic preparations may be recommended to restore the healthy balance of vaginal flora.
- Prevention: Wearing cotton underwear and avoiding tight-fitting clothing can promote proper airflow and reduce moisture in the vaginal area.
- Changing period products: Changing tampons or menstrual pads frequently during menstruation.
- Avoid Antibiotics: Avoiding unnecessary or prolonged use of antibiotics, which can disrupt the natural vaginal flora.
Vaginal inflammation can cause significant discomfort and affect a woman’s overall well-being. Recognising the signs and symptoms of vaginal inflammation is important for seeking timely medical attention and receiving appropriate treatment. By understanding the causes and following preventive measures, women can reduce their risk of developing vaginal inflammation and maintain optimal vaginal health. If you experience any of the symptoms mentioned in this article, it is advised to consult a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and personalised treatment plan.
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