Vaginitis and Vaginal Yeast Infection Symptoms and Remedies

Vaginitis is an inflammation of the vagina that is usually accompanied by abnormal vaginal discharge, itching and pain. It is usually caused by an imbalance of vaginal bacteria or an infection. Vaginitis can also be caused by reduced hormone levels that result after menopause.

The most common types of vaginitis are:

  • Bacterial vaginosis. This type of vaginitis is caused by an overgrowth of microorganisms present in the normally healthy vagina. Such an overgrowth can result in an imbalance of vaginal bacteria leading to vaginosis. It is estimated that nearly 17 of pregnant women in the United State have bacterial vaginosis.

  • Yeast Infections. This type of vaginitis is usually caused by a naturally occurring fungus called Candida albicans. It is estimated that nearly 75 of all women will contract a yeast infection during their lifetime.

  • Trichomoniasis. This type of vaginitis, usually transmitted by sexual intercourse, is caused by parasites.

  • Atrophic vaginitis. This form of vaginitis is caused by reduced estrogen levels that occur following menopause. Common symptoms include drier, thinner than normal vaginal tissues, itching, burning and pain.
Treatments for vaginitis vary and are different for each type.

Yeast Infection

Even though yeast infections are likely the most common type of vaginitis, they rank second in office visits because many women never consult a doctor for this type of infection. Some women with yeast infection treat themselves with over the counter products or may recover spontaneously.

Common symptoms of yeast infection include itching, redness and irritation. When the infection is severe the vulva may become swollen and fine breaks, called fissures, may appear. Vaginal discharge will grow thicker and often becomes clumpy.

As previously mentioned, yeast infections are caused by an overgrowth of fungi that live in the vagina. The most common form of yeast infection is vulvovaginal candidiasis (VVC), which is caused by a fungus called Candida albicans. There are two varieties of vulvovaginal candidiasis: uncomplicated and recurrent. Uncomplicated vulvovaginal candidiasis is a mild to moderate infection that responds well to treatment. Recurrent vulvovaginal candidiasis is usually more severe than uncomplicated VVC, especially in women with candida glabrata or uncontrolled diabetes. Recurrent vulvovaginal candidiasis can require therapy for weeks or months.