Vaginitis is one of the most frequent diseases of the female sexual organs. Bacteria or fungi are usually responsible for the inflammation. Itching, burning or pain and discharge are the main symptoms of vaginitis.
The vaginal mucous membrane in sexually mature women is usually well protected against infections. Lactic acid bacteria in the vagina ensure an acidic environment which prevents colonisation with sickness-inducing germs. However, if this natural protective mechanism is disturbed, this causes an infection. Different factors can influence the acidic environment of the vagina. They include, for example:
- Antibiotic treatment
- Mechanical irritation through tampons or vaginal diaphragms
- A lack of oestrogen
- Disorders of the immune system, diabetes mellitus
Intestinal bacteria such as E.coli and skin bacteria such as staphylococci are responsible for bacterial infections. Fungal infections are mostly caused by yeast fungi such as candida. They are discussed separately in the vaginal fungal infection section. The herpes virus is focus of the viral infections.
The most important indicator for a vaginal infection is the discharge, i.e. fluor vaginalis. This symptom is discussed separately in the vaginal discharge section. The discharge can be slimy, purulent, foamy or watery and often smells terrible. Itching, burning or pain in the vagina are further symptoms of a vaginal infection. Pain also often occurs during sexual intercourse.
A vaginal infection is diagnosed with a vaginal examination. A smear of the vaginal mucous membrane is taken to identify the pathogens of the infection.
The choice of treatment depends on what is causing the infection. Antibiotics are used against bacterial infections. Medication containing lactic acid bacteria and oestrogen is inserted into the vagina to restore the acidic vaginal environment. A fungal infection is treated with ointments or pessaries (antimycotics). The sexual partner should also be treated in the event of a fungal infection.
A vaginal infection can be prevented by avoiding the risk factors which lead to an infection. We recommend against excessive intimate hygiene in as the natural vaginal environment is also affected through this. The use of condoms prevents the transmission of sexual diseases. Vaginal pessaries containing lactic acid can be used can be used preventatively during antibiotic treatment.