Vaginitis, Why Do I Keep Getting It?

>> Tuesday, July 23, 2013

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A range of infections can cause vaginal discharge, odor and itching. Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is the most common. Vaginal infections are commonly referred to as vaginitis and they can be caused by certain types of bacteria/fungus or by a sexually transmitted disease. But sometimes women can experience a constant feeling of irritation, swelling, discharge and odor, but no cause can be found. And, why do some women get cover and over, while other women seem to never be bothered with it?

A yeast infection is perhaps the most common cause of itching and swelling of the vagina. The vaginal discharge associated with yeast infections is typically thick and clumpy, and the itching is usually both internal and external. Most infections clear up with anti-fungal treatments of creams, suppositories or pills, either prescription or over-the-counter.

Bacterial vaginosis can also cause vaginal discharge and itching, but the discharge of a bacterial infection is much different from that of a yeast infection. It has a thin consistency, with a gray-white color, and an unpleasant, sour, fishy odor.

But what about when you have all the symptoms of BV or yeast infection but none of the vaginal cultures show that there is an infection? You may suffer symptoms like vaginal itching, vaginal burning, vaginal discharge and painful sex, but all the tests are negative!

This is what we call non-infectious vaginitis, which usually refers to vaginal irritation without an infection being present. It feels just like a vaginal yeast infection, or if it's external only with no discharge, what we call, "Lady" jock itch. Most often, this is caused by an allergic reaction to, or irritation from, vaginal sprays, condoms, douches, and spermicidal products, or a sensitivity to perfumed soaps, detergents or fabric softeners.

May I say that in Vegas, "Lady" jock itch is common, because we have extreme heat, which traps moisture against the body as we sweat or sit in wet bathing suits this time of year. So, day after day of sweating in the groin area creates moisture that is trapped by the clothing we wear - such as nylons, floss panties, non-cotton panties, tight jeans, shorts or dress pants.

With this type of heat, wetness issues and clothing drama, it prevents our bodies from breathing and instead functions like a perfect incubator for the growth of all the fungus and bacteria. And, it can just cause plain, old chapped, irritated skin.

So that's the definition of the Vegas "Lady" jock itch, :) which I'm sure all of you have where you live too… just didn't know what to call it.

The practice of rinsing out your vagina with a cleansing agent (douching) upsets the natural balance of your vaginal environment. This can lead to an overgrowth of anaerobic bacteria, which in turn can result in bacterial vaginosis, yeast infections or irritation. Since the vagina is self-cleaning, douching isn't necessary. But, you certainly can use WaterWorks, which uses normal tap water and a medical grade stainless steel nozzle to safely and effectively clean your vagina.

The link between sexual activity and bacterial vaginosis isn't entirely clear, but bacterial vaginosis occurs more often in women who have multiple sex partners or a new sex partner. Bacterial vaginosis also seems to occur more frequently in women who have sex with women.

For some reason that may be genetic, some women just have a lack of vagina lactobacilli. If your natural vaginal environment doesn't produce enough lactobacilli, you're more likely to develop bacterial vaginosis.

Precautions can be taken to prevent abnormal vaginal discharge and itching by limiting exposure to irritating chemicals and by avoiding perfumed feminine products, toilet paper and douches. The vaginal area should be kept clean and dry so that yeast or bacteria are less likely to grow and spread. Some women have also found that probiotics found in yogurt can be helpful. Also, wiping with baby wipes is a much better choice for women than toilet paper. They are inexpensive, non-irritating and clean all the creases much better. Some of you have the French type Bidets next to or attached to your toilet, which are also wonderful.

For those of you with stubborn, recurrent infections, you may want to try gently blow-drying the area on low heat after showering to make sure all the creases are dry before getting dressed.

For so many of you, I know it's a struggle. But hang in there and it will get better. It's best to treat any discharge or irritation immediately, before it has a chance to get worse.

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