Vulvovaginitis is inflammation of the vulva and the vagina and is often called vaginitis. It is a common condition that nearly one-third of the women population will face at some point in their lifetime. It most commonly occurs in the reproductive years.
There are varying types of vulvovaginitis and causes of its occurrence. This issue occurs when the normal amount of yeast and bacteria in your vagina grows out of balance. The reasons this can happen can include an infection, hormonal changes, or medication use- which is most commonly linked to antibiotics. But this can also happen with contact reactions if something comes in direct contact with your vagina or vulva.
There are three common types of vaginal infections that cause vulvovaginitis. They are:
- Yeast Infection. If your body begins to produce too much of a fungus called C. albicans, or any forms of candida, you will get a yeast infection. While women always have some level of candida in their vagina, an overgrowth will cause symptoms of vaginitis.
- Bacterial Vaginosis. Bacteria lives in all healthy vaginas, but the types present- whether “good” or “bad,” will help to determine the level of bacterial vaginosis infection being experienced. When the bad bacteria outweigh the good, you will most likely need a trip to your doctor.
- Trichomoniasis. This type of vaginitis comes from tiny, one-celled parasites named Trichomonas vaginalis. These germs are most often obtained through sexual activity with someone who is infected. Men can carry this bacterium as well and do not often show visible symptoms. One can also get trichomoniasis via these methods:
- Viruses like herpes and the human papilloma virus (HPV)
- A decrease in hormones, usually around childbirth or menopause
- Sexually transmitted diseases like chlamydia and gonorrhea
- Allergic reactions to lubricants, lotions and detergents.
The Symptoms of Vulvovaginitis
Vulvovaginitis symptoms will depend on the type of vaginitis you are experiencing. It is possible to have more than one type of vaginitis at one time, but most often the symptoms occur on, around and sometimes in the vagina, vulva, and surrounding areas. Some of these symptoms can include:
- Rashes and blisters
- Lumps and bumps
One may also notice these symptoms:
- Pain during intercourse or sexual activity
- Discomfort when urinating
- Light bleeding or spotting
- Discharge and odor
One of the most common symptoms of vaginitis is unusual discharge and can hold the answers for your doctor to determine what caused your issues to begin with. Discharge from the different types of infections is often different colors, textures, and makeups. Yeast infection discharge is often white, odorless, and can be clumpy, much like cottage cheese, where itching is the most common complaint. The discharge from bacterial vaginosis is heavier than normal, but thin and fishy-smelling, and ranges from grey to green in color. Trichomoniasis also has a range of color for the discharge, from yellow to green, but is frothy and odiferous.
For more information about vulvovaginal infections, please read, “Vulvovaginitis: Diagnosis, Treatment and Prevention.