Vaginitis (cont.)

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What causes vaginitis?

There are several different types of vaginitis:

  • Bacterial infection: Bacterial vaginosis is a form of vaginitis that results from an imbalance of the normal bacteria present in the vagina and an overgrowth of certain bacterial types. Bacterial vaginosis is the most common vaginal infection in women of reproductive age. The role of sexual activity in the development of bacterial vaginosis is poorly understood, and while most experts believe that bacterial vaginosis does not occur in women who have not had sexual intercourse, others feel that women who have not had sexual intercourse can develop the condition. Bacterial infections that cause vaginitis may also be STDs such as gonorrhea or syphilis.
  • Trichomonas infection: Trichomonas is a parasitic organism that causes a sexually transmitted vaginal infection. Trichomoniasis vaginitis is sometimes referred to as "trich" and is a common condition.
  • Yeast infection: Yeast vaginitis is typically caused by an overgrowth of the yeast organism Candida. Yeast vaginitis is sometimes referred to as Candida vaginitis. Yeast infections are very common and are not considered to be sexually transmitted.
  • Other (non-infectious) causes of vaginitis: Physical or chemical irritation of any type can cause inflammation of the vagina. It is often caused by a reaction to irritating substances including douches, soaps, spermicides, or detergents. The inflammation may be the result of an allergic reaction to these substances or may be due to simple irritation. Postmenopausal women may experience irritation in the vaginal area due to a reduction in levels of estrogen. Reduced estrogen levels can lead to thinning and dryness of the vaginal lining that can produce symptoms. This condition has been referred to as atrophic vaginitis. Nonspecific vaginitis has also been described, particularly in children, and a specific cause cannot be identified although it may be related to contamination of the vaginal area with bacteria present in stool.

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