Chemicals in sprays, soaps, or even in the clothing you wear that come into contact with your vagina are able to irritate the area around this delicate skin and cause an infection. There could also be other medical factors that caused irritation or infection. It is not always easy to find the reason or solution without visiting your gynecologist.
Doctors call the various conditions which are capable of causing infections or inflammation of the vagina, vaginitis. These conditions can vary in severity from mild to severe and in most cases, will not go away without medical intervention.
Forms of Vaginal Infections
There are numerous forms of vaginal infections. These are some of the more common types:
Candida (Yeast) Infection
There are a lot of forms of fungus that live inside a human body. One of these fungi is called candida. It is a form of yeast, which usually lives in your mouth in small amounts. This fungus can also live in your belly or on your skin and not cause you any problems. However, in the wrong environment, this yeast multiplies out of control.
An infection known as candida when growing in the throat or mouth is called Thrush. Newborns are at risk of this infection as well as the elderly due to their weak immune system. Adults who develop this infection are most likely being treated for cancer, taking corticosteroids, wear dentures, or have diabetes.
Another form of this infection is called genital candidiasis. It is referred to as a yeast infection when too much yeast grows in the vagina. These infections usually develop when there is a change in the vagina’s balance. Common causes are medicines, lubricants, spermicides, pregnancy, diabetes, or a weak immune system. The infection can also be passed to partners during sex.
Symptoms of a yeast infection include:
- Swelling and redness of the vagina and vulva
- Severe itchiness in the vagina
- A burning sensation when you urinate
- Uncomfortable sex
- A ‘white cottage cheese’ discharge from the vagina
Although not as common, men can also contract a yeast infection, but they generally only suffer an itchy rash on their penis.
There are over-the-counter antifungal suppositories, creams, or tablets that can ease the discomfort of a yeast infection. You should see your gynecologist at Gyn LA to receive a diagnosis and advise on which medication will treat your symptoms best. They will also want to diagnosis your symptoms to ensure there are no other health conditions responsible for the infection.
Treatments for a yeast infection will depend on how severe your case is and how often you get the infection. Your doctor at Gyn LA may suggest a short-course vaginal therapy if you suffer from mild to moderate infection. This therapy requires taking an antifungal medication from three to seven days to clear the infection. There are also single-dose oral medications that can manage more severe symptoms.
If you suffer from yeast infections frequently or have severe symptoms; your doctor may prescribe a long-course vaginal therapy. A long-course treatment would involve taking an antifungal medication for up to two weeks. There are also multi-dose oral medications or azole-resistant therapies which may help with more severe infections. Your doctor at Gyn LA can determine which medication will best address your symptoms.
Gonorrhea is an STD (sexually transmitted disease) and is often referred to as the ‘clap.’ This infection is usually painful and causes other symptoms within your genital tract. Gonorrhea can also cause problems with your throat, rectum, joints, and eyes. It is not a sex preferred disease, as both men and women are susceptible.
This infection comes from a bacterium called Neisseria gonorrhoeae, and even though spread through sexual contact, a man does not have to ejaculate to pass it along to his partner. Gonorrhea can be spread from partner to partner from any form of sexual contact, including:
- Anal intercourse
- Vaginal intercourse
- Oral sex- both as receiving or giving
Like many germs, you can contract the bacterium, which causes gonorrhea just from a simple touch of an infected area. Coming into contact with their penis, anus, mouth, or vagina if they have gonorrhea puts you at risk of contracting the same infection.
The gonorrhea bacteria cannot live outside the body for more than five seconds. This time limit of survival means you cannot contract the disease from touching clothes or toilet seats. Women can pass the infection on to their babies during a vaginal birth; however, mothers who have a C-section will not pass it.
Treatment for gonorrhea can cure the infection. The CDC suggests you receive dual therapy by using two drugs to treat this disease. A single dose of intramuscular ceftriaxone along with 1g of oral azithromycin. Talk with your doctor at Gyn LA if you suspect you have contracted gonorrhea so that they can get you on the right medications as soon as possible. The drug can stop the infection, but it will not repair any damage the disease has caused.
Trichomoniasis is another STD (sexually transmitted disease). This disease is not as dangerous as other STDs, and in most cases, can be treated. It is caused by a small, one-celled parasite called Trichomonas vaginalis. Women are more susceptible to this disease than men, and it affects African-American women more than Hispanic or white.
Most of those who have trichomoniasis do not display any symptoms, but having it raises your chances of getting and spreading other STDs, including HIV.
Contracting trichomoniasis is done through sexual contact with someone who has it. It is typically passed between the vagina and penis, and the man does not have to ejaculate to pass it on to his partner. Women having sex with other women can also spread the infection as it passes through vaginal contact as well.
Women will typically get the trichomoniasis infection in their vulva, cervix, urethra, or vagina. It is not usually spread to other parts of the body, such as the anus, mouth, or hands.
Treatment for trichomoniasis is usually with a single dose of prescription antibiotic medication. The pill form of this medicine can be taken orally and has been deemed safe for pregnant women. If you consume alcohol within twenty-four hours of receiving the dose, you may experience uncomfortable side effects.
Those treated for trichomoniasis can see it return. Studies show that approximately one in five people will get re-infected within three months after treatment. The best solution to this risk is to have all your sex partners receive treatment as well.
Chlamydia is an STD (sexually transmitted disease). This disease is perhaps the most common one in the United States and the easiest to spread. There are often no symptoms with chlamydia, so partners often are not aware they are sharing it with others. While symptoms are not always noticeable, when they do appear, it is within one to three weeks of contracting the disease. Women will notice:
- Periods will become painful
- Bleeding will occur in between periods
- There is a vaginal discharge which is often accompanied by an odor
- It will become painful to have sex
- It will become painful to urinate
- There may be abdominal pain accompanied by a fever
- The vagina may become itchy with a burning sensation
Treatments for chlamydia include oral antibiotics, and your doctor will highly suggest you have your partner treated as well to prevent reinfection. The oral antibiotics should clear your symptoms in one to two weeks. If your infection is severe, your doctor may place you in the hospital for intravenous antibiotics along with a prescription for pain medications.
Non-infectious vaginal reactions
Allergies occur when your immune system reacts to something which is usually harmless. Doctors refer to these materials or substances as ‘allergens,’ and they can include mold, pollen, animal dander, certain foods, and other materials that can irritate your skin.
Symptoms will depend on how you are exposed to the allergen and the area of your body that is sensitive. Soaps are one of the most common allergens that can affect a woman’s vagina and cause a reaction. Using new laundry soaps, or bath soaps will allow contact and create an allergic infection.
Treating this form of reaction would require visiting your doctor at Gyn La to determine the exact cause of the infection. Your doctor will want to rule out other health conditions that could cause the symptoms. If it is determined to be a product you are using, stopping the use of it should alleviate the symptoms. Your doctor may also prescribe a cream or medicine to take to help relieve any burning or itching this reaction has caused.
Viral vaginitis is a medical term used by doctors to describe various disorders that cause inflammation or infections of the vagina. Conditions can be the result of an infection caused by bacteria, viruses, or yeast. You can also experience this condition due to irritations caused by chemicals, sprays, or your clothing. This infection can also be the result of organisms passed between sexual partners, a lack of estrogen, or vaginal dryness.
Treatment will depend on the reason you’ve developed viral vaginitis. Your doctor will prescribe treatment or medication based on why you have contracted this disorder.
How to Know Symptoms Indicate Vaginal Infection
The discharge from your vagina should be slightly cloudy to clear. This discharge is your body’s way of cleaning the area. The discharge should not have an odor, and should not make you itch. How much you have, and its exact appearance will change during your menstrual cycle.
If you notice an odor or the discharge begins to itch or burn, it is an indication of an infection. The symptoms may appear at any time of the day, but they generally increase during the night. You should contact your doctor at Gyn LA if you notice:
- Having sex has become uncomfortable
- You experience a burning sensation when you urinate
- Your discharge has changed color or has developed an odor
- You can see swelling or are experiencing an itchy, burning soreness around or outside your vagina
Two common reasons for noticing these types of changes are related to the organisms that live in your vagina. Yeast infections occur when there is an overgrowth of the yeast generally in your body, and bacterial vaginosis occurs when your balance of bacteria is off. Both of these conditions will develop a grayish or thicker discharge.
There are times when your discharge will change, or you will experience burning and itching without an infection being present. These are considered allergic reactions and as discussed above, can be caused by several factors. The symptoms could also be from a lower level of hormones in your body due to menopause beginning.
Treating vaginal infections effectively depends on diagnosing the cause correctly. When you schedule an appointment with your gynecologist at Gyn LA, be prepared to provide them with complete information. You will need to describe how much discharge you are experiencing as well as it's color, smell, and texture. It is best if you see your doctor at the onset of your symptoms and before you try any over-the-counter remedies even if you feel confident, you know the cause.
Preventing Vaginal Infections
Douching has been known to hide or spread infections. If you use these products, it is suggested you discontinue their use as they remove healthy bacteria from your vagina that perform natural housekeeping of the area.
Another way to prevent vaginal infections is to avoid clothing that retains moisture and heat. Tight jeans, nylon underwear, pantyhose without the cotton panel, or non-breathable leggings and shorts can all lead to yeast infections.
Eating yogurts with active cultures helps to reduce infections, and using condoms during sex prevents the passing of these infections. You should schedule a complete gynecologic exam each year, including a Pap test to check for any infections and ensure your health.
Find Treatment Near Me for Vaginal Infections
Experiencing the discomfort and pain associated with vaginal infections significantly impacts your daily routine. Call Gyn LA at 310-375-8446 today to schedule an appointment and find the treatment you need to end these symptoms. We treat all patients with comfort, compassion, and confidence and want to find you the relief you need in a personalized and friendly environment.