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Vaginitis is inflammation of the vagina.
Vaginitis is responsible for an estimated 10% of all visits by women to their healthcare practitioners. The three general causes of vaginitis are hormonal imbalance, irritation, and infection. Hormone-related vaginitis includes the atrophic vaginitis generally found in postmenopausal or postpartum women and, occasionally, in young girls before puberty. Irritant vaginitis can result from allergies or irritating substances. Infectious vaginitis is most common in reproductive-age women and is generally caused by one of three types of infections: bacterial vaginosis (BV), candidiasis (yeast infection), or trichomoniasis. A healthcare professional should be consulted for the diagnosis and treatment of any vaginal infection.
Although it is a type of vaginitis, yeast infection is not discussed on this page. For specific information on yeast infections (i.e., vaginitis caused by Candida albicans), see the yeast infections article.
Hormone-related vaginitis is marked by dryness, irritation, thinning of the vaginal mucous membranes and painful intercourse. Irritant vaginitis is characterized by itching and soreness. Infectious vaginitis also itches and typically includes vaginal discharge that varies in color, consistency, and odor, depending upon the infectious organism. Discharge may range from scant to thick and white and may or may not be accompanied by a strong odor. Symptoms are often worse immediately after intercourse or the menstrual period.
For irritant vaginitis, minimizing friction and reducing exposure to perfumes, chemicals, irritating lubricants, and spermicides can be beneficial.
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The information presented in Aisle7 is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires June 2015.