Two weeks ago, I wrote about vagina discharges and what they could possibly mean to you at that specific time. While we are still digesting that, I want to reiterate that it totally depends on individuals, and not all our vaginas are the same or react the same way to certain things. Today, I want to write about vaginitis. Might sound like a big word, but it simply refers to vaginal infection. This is important because there are different infections that can be caused by certain things.
Vaginitis is described as the inflammation of the vagina that is caused by an imbalance of yeast and bacteria that normally live in the vagina. As such, the infection can either be caused by bacteria, yeast or viruses. With this infection, there is usually discomfort when you pee and/or when you sit, and may itch. However, with these discomforts, one may notice a smell that’s different from the usual. Chemicals in soaps, sprays or even clothing that come in contact with this area could be irritating the delicate skin and tissues. It is important to note that vaginitis is an umbrella of the infections that the vagina gets exposed to. As such, it is vital that you seek medical attention in order to know exactly which infection you have. In most cases, the most common one is a yeast infection and/or bacterial vaginosis. It may be a bit difficult to tell them apart as they can have very similar symptoms. Yeast infections are an overgrowth of the yeast that you normally have in your body. Bacterial vaginosis happens when the balance of bacteria is thrown off. With both conditions, you may notice a white or greyish discharge. How can you tell them apart? If there’s a fishy smell, then it may be bacterial vaginosis. If your discharge looks like cottage cheese, a yeast infection may be to blame.
That’s also more likely to cause itching and burning, though bacterial vaginosis might make you itchy too. It’s possible to have both at the same time. A woman’s vagina makes a discharge that is usually clear or slightly cloudy. In part, it’s how the vagina cleans itself. When your discharge has a very noticeable odour or burns or itches, there is likely a problem. You might feel an irritation any time of the day, but it’s most often bothersome at night or when you try to have sex; it will be very uncomfortable. If these are symptoms you present, seeing a doctor is the best option, instead of buying over the counter medication. It is of paramount importance to remember to keep yourself clean and dry. Try to stay away from sprays or heavily-perfumed soaps for this area. Douching may cause irritation too and, more importantly, could hide or spread an infection. It also removes the healthy bacteria that do the housekeeping in your vagina. Douching is never recommended. Avoid clothes that hold in heat and make you sweat. Nylon underwear, tight jeans, gym shorts and leggings that don’t allow your vagina to breathe, and pantyhose without a cotton panel can lead to yeast infections.
One more thing, please stay away from scented pads and/or pantiliners. They make it worse.
• Frieda Mukufa’s lifestyle section concentrates on women-related issues and parenting. She also specialises in editing research proposals, proofreading as well as content creation.