Although they may have different symptoms, a diagnosis can be tricky even for an experienced doctor. Part of the problem is that you could have more than one at the same time. Let us check out the Symptoms, Causes and Treatment of Vaginal infection.
What are the symptoms of a vaginal infection?
Vaginal infections can manifest in many varied ways.
The commonest symptoms that women present with include:
3) Pain/Discomfort of the vaginal & anal skin
4) Pain on urination
6) Abnormal vaginal bleeding – bleeding in between periods, or bleeding after sex
What are the causes of vaginal infections?
Vaginal infections can be classified into 2 categories – sexually transmissible or non-sexually transmissible.
Non transmissible infections include:
1) Fungal infection – otherwise known as yeast/candida/thrush
Women with a yeast infection often describe symptoms of thick cheesy vaginal discharge, accompanied by itching, pain on urination, and vaginal discomfort.
2) Bacterial Vaginosis
Bacterial vaginosis is caused by the bacteria Gardnerella.
Most women with bacterial vaginosis complain of thin yellow-green discharge, with a distinctive malodour.
Yeast and gardnerella are both common organisms that live on the vaginal skin.
A yeast or gardnerella infection may be triggered by an imbalance in the bacteria colonising your vaginal tract – this usually occurs in situations of stress, illness, or antibiotic use.
3.) Other factors that affect your vaginal bacteria include douching, use of chemicals/soaps in the genital region, and improper dietary habits.
Transmissible infections include:
Vaginal infections may also be caused by transmissible organisms. These are usually contracted through sexual contact with another partner.
This is caused by the bacteria chlamydia trachomatis.
Chlamydia is the commonest sexually transmitted infection in the US and the UK.
Chlamydia infections can result in abnormal vaginal discharge, lower abdominal pain, pain on urination, and abnormal vaginal bleeding.
However, in up to 75% of women, chlamydia infections can be completely asymptomatic.
Chlamydia can also affect other areas such as the anus, mouth/throat and eyes.
The majority if gonorrhea infections are asymptomatic – only 20% of women with gonorrhoea infections will have symptoms.
Infection with neisseria gonorrhoeae causes similar symptoms to Chlamydia infections and can infect non-genital sites as well.
This is caused by infection with the parasite Trichomonas vaginalis.
Trichomonas infections usually appear as foul smelling green yellow vaginal discharge, and discomfort of the vaginal skin.
4) Herpes Simplex Virus
Herpes simplex Virus (HSV) infections result in painful blisters/ulcers in the vaginal and anal skin.
The symptoms usually occur within a week or two of exposure to the virus, and are often associated with fever, pain on urination, and sticky green-yellow vaginal discharge.
Like other sexually transmissible infections, HSV can also be completely asymptomatic.
How is a vaginal infection diagnosed?
If you have any of the symptoms suggestive of a vaginal infection, visit your doctor for a check-up.
Your doctor is likely to perform a vaginal examination, followed by swab and/or blood tests to accurately diagnose the infection. In some instances, your doctor might also decide to order urine tests or an ultrasound scan of your pelvic organs.
How is a vaginal infection treated?
Depending on your symptoms, and the results of the tests, your women’s clinic will prescribe the appropriate antibiotics for you.
It is especially important for infections such as chlamydia and gonorrhea to be diagnosed and treated promptly – if left untreated for a long time, this can results in pelvic inflammatory disease, and infertility.
How do I prevent myself from getting a vaginal infection?
Speak to your doctor about some practices and lifestyle modifications that you can make to reduce your chances of having a non-transmissible vaginal infection.
Practising safe sex and minimizing the number of sexual partners can help in reducing your chances of contracting a transmissible vaginal infection.
Need more advice?
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