As a woman, you are responsible for your vaginal health. The vagina is a sensitive environment that may be thrown off balance by any of a number of things. Here are three common vaginal infections women should know about:
Viral vaginitis. Vaginitis refers to irritation and swelling in the vagina, which is often caused by infection. Viral vaginitis is caused by viral infection – herpes simplex virus and human papillomavirus (HPV), for example. Viruses that cause vaginitis are relatively common, and they are most often spread by way of sexual contact. Therefore, when you get treatment for viral vaginitis, it is important that your partner gets treated at the same time. Symptoms of viral vaginitis vary, depending on the specific virus you are infected with, and they may include discharge, foul odor, itching, burning, swelling, redness, and/or vaginal warts. There are two different HPV vaccines that have proven to also be effective against genital warts. Ask your doctor about these vaccines as part of your gynecological care.
Chlamydia. Caused by a bacteria called Chlamydia trachomatis, this is the most common sexually transmitted disease in America. Symptoms include excessive discharge, pain while urinating, pus in the urine, irregular bleeding (often following intercourse), abdominal or pelvic pain, and inflammation/redness of the labia and urethra. It is not uncommon for women who have Chlamydia to not experience symptoms at all, which means that unfortunately, Chlamydia often goes untreated until it has caused more serious problems like pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). Antibiotics are used to treat Chlamydia.
Trichomoniasis. Trichomoniasis, often simply called “trick,” is a sexually transmitted disease that is cause by a single-celled parasite called Trichomonas vaginis. Symptoms vary from case to case, but may include any combination of the following: a greenish and frothy discharge, a musty smell, vaginal itching and irritation, painful intercourse, burning during urination, and abdominal discomfort. Like other vaginal infections, it is not unusual for women who have trichomoniasis to experience no symptoms. Treatment generally involves antibiotics.
As you can see, vaginal infections are caused by a number of different culprits, and are often spread by way of sexual contact. Therefore, it is important that you get regular gynecological examinations in order to stay on top of your vaginal health and catch infections before they cause more serious problems. It is also important that your sexual partner(s) get treatment at the same time, so you do not pass the infection back and forth. If you think you are at risk for any of the above infections, book an appointment with your gynecologist today.
About the Author: Ali Rycroft is a women’s health advocate who specializes in patient education. She constantly sees women seeking yeast infection treatment when they aren’t actually sure what type of infection they have. She recommends always seeing a doctor if you aren’t sure.