Let us continue our update and review of vaginitis from my last post about this topic.
To better understand why vaginitis occurs, let us look at the vaginal environment. The lining of the vagina is made of squamous epithelial cells. These are flat and stratified, which means that there are multiple layers of these calls. These cells are rich in glycogen – a storage form of glucose. Remember, glucose is the most important simple sugar, and it is used as a source of energy for all human functions.
The squamous cells are continuously being shed from the lining and the glycogen in these becomes the energy for the lactobacilli that are naturally found in the vagina. These bacteria convert the glucose into lactic acid, which keeps the vaginal environment in an acidic state, helping to maintain the normal vaginal bacterial flora plus preventing abnormal organisms from growing.
If you disrupt the normal community of organisms, vaginitis can occur. There are many factors that can affect this natural environment:
- Estrogen levels, for example, a menopausal state where estrogen levels are decreased
- Different phases of the menstrual cycle
- Sexual activity
- Sexually transmitted diseases
- Different medications such as oral contraceptives and antibiotics