What is Vaginitis?

Vaginitis is an inflammation of the vagina that can result in discharge, itching and pain. The cause is usually a change in the balance of vaginal bacteria or an infection. Also, hormonal changes after menopause can cause it. The most common types are: bacterial vaginosis, yeast infections and trichomoniasis.


The cause of vaginitis depends on the type:

Bacterial vaginosis: this is the most common type and it results from change in the balance of bacteria around your vagina, this is usually linked to having multiple sexual partners, but also can occur in women who are not sexually active

Yeast infections: which are caused by overgrowth of fungal organisms such as candida albicans in the vagina.

Trichomoniasis: this is actually a sexually transmitted infection caused by a parasite called trichomonas vaginalis which spreads during sexual intercourse.

Non-infectious vaginitis: which is usually caused by vaginal sprays, douches, perfumed soaps, detergents and foreign objects in the vagina such as forgotten tampons or toilet paper.

Vaginal atrophy caused by menopause can also cause vaginitis. Because the lower estrogen levels cause thinning of the vaginal wall and ease irritation leading to vaginitis.


The signs and symptoms of vaginitis can include:

Discharge from the vaginaItching in the vaginaBad or foul smell of the vaginaPain during sexual intercourseVaginal bleeding or spotting 


To diagnose vaginitis, your doctor will carefully review your medical history for vaginal infection or sexually transmitted infections. You doctor may also perform:

Pelvic exam to look inside your vagina for inflammation or dischargeThe doctor will collect a sample of the discharge to send to the lab to identify the organism causing the infection.


The treatment of vaginitis targets the specific cause:

Bacterial vaginosis: your doctor may prescribe medication called “Metronidazole” which can also come in gel form that can be applied locally. Other medications can also be prescribed by your doctor

Yeast infections and trichomoniasis: are usually treated by medications which can be pills or creams applied locally. Your doctor will decide the proper medication based on the fungus causing the infection.

Vaginal atrophy: post-menopausal women can be prescribed estrogen in the form of cream, tablets or rings.

Non-infectious vaginitis is treated by avoiding the cause causing the irritation


Good hygiene can prevent some types of vaginitis from recurring and relieve the symptoms.Avoid baths and hot tubs Avoid irritation of the vagina by using objects such as scented tampons, excessive vaginal douches, harsh soap, or bubble bath.Practice safe sexWear cotton underwear, consider not wearing underwear to bed.