Vaginal infections refer to certain conditions that can cause irritation or inflammation of your vagina. Vaginal infections can have several causes. Some vagina infections may not produce any symptoms. However, most women with vagina infections may experience symptoms such as unusual vaginal discharge, smelly discharge, irritation and swelling of the vagina and vulva, pain and burning sensations while urinating, etc. The symptoms, however, will also vary based on the cause of the infection
Vaginal infections can be caused by viruses and many are sexually transmitted. With that in mind, let us take a look at some common vagina infections.
The causes of vagina infections are categorized into the following:
1. Bacterial Infections
The vagina has some natural and healthy bacteria which are always present and are essential for its proper functioning. But when there is an overgrowth of these bacteria, it leads to bacterial vaginosis. Symptoms of bacterial vaginosis include thin grey or white discharge, a fishy-smelling odor from the vagina, a burning sensation while urinating, pain during sexual intercourse, itching of the vulva, etc.
Symptoms may include white, green, or yellow discharge, bleeding, burning sensation during urination, painful sex, etc.
2. Yeast Infections
A lot of things, including antibiotics, can reduce the number of anti-fungal bacteria in your vagina. It is this reduction that leads to an overgrowth of fungi in the vagina and causes infection.
Symptoms may include irritation, itching, burning in and around the vagina, thick, sticky, white discharge, swelling, and flushing around the vulva and vagina. Most women will get a vaginal yeast infection at some point in their life.
3. Viral Infections
Some viral vaginal infections include genital herpes, caused by herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2), and genital warts caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). These viruses are contracted viruses through sexual intercourse or by having skin-to-skin contact with a person who has them.
Symptoms of genital herpes include painful ulcers or sores on the genitals, burning or pain while urinating, swelling of lymph nodes, swelling of the vulva, fever, headaches, etc. For genital warts, the symptoms are typically warts, around and inside the vagina and anus, usually either separate or in clusters, warts that may bleed, itching, flushing, or discomfort.
This is caused by a protozoan parasite that can be contracted sexually. It is a very common infection and about 70% of those who contract it do not present with symptoms. However, some people begin to show symptoms after a few days of contracting the disease. Symptoms include itchy, sore, flushed, or burning genitals, a change in vaginal discharge, such as an increase in volume, a change in color to clear, yellow, or green, the production of thin discharge, and discomfort during urination.
5. Vaginal Atrophy
Usually, after menopause, or when a woman’s estrogen level is very low, it can cause vaginal thinning, dryness, and less flexibility which leads to an inflammation of the vagina.
6. Non-infectious Vaginitis
Non-infectious vaginitis typically occurs due to irritants. Certain kinds of soap, body wash, perfume, vaginal contraceptives, etc. can irritate your vagina which can also cause inflammation. Other things may cause allergies when they come in contact with the vagina. Some of these things are sperm fluid, spermicides, condoms, fragrances or cosmetics, lubricants, sanitary pads, and other personal care products.
Underwear or lingerie’s that are too tight may also cause heat rashes that can irritate the vagina. Symptoms of an allergy or sensitivity to triggers include swelling and irritation of the vagina and vulva, flushing of the vagina and vulva, pain, burning, and stinging sensations on the vulva. Vaginal infections can cause pain and discomfort. It is therefore advisable to take note of changes in your vagina and seek medical attention early enough.