Dealing With Vaginitis

July 16, 2023
Lisa P. Otey, MD


Every day, a tiny amount of cloudy or clear fluid is discharged from the vagina. This fluid makes the vaginal tissue healthy and moist. During the menstrual cycle, it is common for the color and the amount of the vaginal discharge to change. There are also a number of organisms such as yeast and bacteria that thrive in the vagina. These organisms are harmless. However, a change in the normal balance of organisms in the vagina can make these bacteria and yeast harmful causing vaginitis. If the normal balance of the vagina is upset or changed, the vaginal lining may become inflamed. This inflammation leads to vaginitis. And vaginitis may lead to bad odor, itching and large amount of vaginal discharge. Your Houston Gynecologist will assist you in identifying the cause of your vaginitis symptoms through an exam and testing.Here are the factors that can change or upset the normal balance in the vagina leading to vaginitis:

  • Infection
  • Antibiotics
  • Sexual intercourse
  • Douching
  • Changes in hormone levels due to pregnancy, breastfeeding, or menopause
  • Spermicides

What can be done

To decrease the risk of getting vaginitis, a number of things can be done:

  • Do away with scented deodorant tampons and feminine hygiene sprays.
  • Never douche. It is still best to clean the vagina itself.
  • Detergents and soaps can alter the normal balance of the yeast and bacteria inside the vagina. Instead, use warm and plain water to clean up the vulva.
  • Thoroughly clean cervical caps, spermicide applicators and diaphragms after each use.
  • Use condoms during sex.
  • If antibiotics have been prescribed to you for another infection, ask your doctor on the ways to prevent yeast infections.

Kinds of Vaginitis

Yeast Infection

This infection is also known as candidiasis. Most vaginitis belong to this type.

Cause: Yeast ordinarily thrives in the vagina. But their number is kept to a minimal level due to the presence of some bacteria. Taking some antibiotics can cause the overgrowth of yeast and this leads to vaginitis. The explanation for this is that some of these antibiotics kill the bacteria that maintain the normal level of the yeast. Yeast infection can also be due to pregnancy. The reason for this is that the pregnant woman’s body undergoes hormonal changes. Diabetes mellitus in women also increases the risk of yeast infection. Low immune system also causes yeast infection. Women with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) may therefore be vulnerable to yeast infection. In a number of cases, the cause of yeast infection is unknown.

Symptoms: Itching and burning of the vulva; change or increase of vaginal discharge; pain during sex or urination are the common symptoms of yeast infection.

Treatment: Yeast infection can be cured by taking a pill or by placing a medication into the vagina.

Bacterial Vaginosis

Cause: This type of vaginitis is caused by the imbalance of bacteria that normally live in the vagina in small numbers.

Symptoms: The principal symptom is the increase of vaginal discharge. This vaginal discharge emits a fishy odor and the odor may be stronger after sex and during menstrual period. Itching may also be experienced specially if there is a lot of vaginal discharge. This is more commonly associated with vaginitis but is not the most common cause.

Treatment: A number of antibiotics can treat bacterial vaginosis. These include metronidazole and clindamycin. These medications can be taken by mouth or inserted in the vagina as gel or cream. Metronidazole, if taken by mouth, has side effects in some individuals. These side effects include darkening of urine, nausea and vomiting. When taking metronidazole do not drink alcohol as the combination of the two causes severe vomiting and nausea. In some cases, treatment of bacterial vaginosis or bacterial vaginitis last for 3-6 months.


Cause: This type of vaginitis is caused by the microscopic parasite called Trichomonas vaginalis. This condition is a type of sexually transmitted disease (STD). When a woman is affected by trichomoniasis, she may be infected with other STDs.

Symptoms: Indications of trichomoniasis include green or yellow-gray vaginal discharge; fishy odor ; irritation, redness, swelling and burning of the vulva; and at times pain during urination.

Treatment: Trichomoniasis is normally treated with metronidazole to be taken by mouth. Tinidazole can also be used to treat Trichomoniasis. In this condition, sexual partners must be treated to prevent the condition from coming back.

Atrophic Vaginitis

Cause: Unlike other forms of vaginitis, this condition is not an infection rather this condition may occur when the hormonal levels of the women are low especially during menopause and breastfeeding.

Symptoms: Signs include itching, burning and dryness of the vulva; pain during sex; and abnormal vaginal discharge.

Treatment: This condition can be treated by estrogen that is applied inside the vagina. Estrogen can be in a form of a ring, cream or tablet. For this condition, during sex, a water-soluble lubricant may be helpful.

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