What Factors Lead You to Vaginitis?

Vaginitis - Printed Diagnosis with Blurred Text. On Background of Medicaments Composition - Red Pills, Injections and Syringe.

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.

Microscopic view of Trichomonas vaginalis
Trichomonas vaginalis

If you disrupt the normal community of organisms, vaginitis can occur.  There are many factors that can affect this natural environment:

  • Pregnancy
  • 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

-Dr. P

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Women Often Delay Diagnosis and Treatment of This Problem

Stop Vaginitis Red Sign Painted - Open Hand Raised, Isolated on White BackgroundOver the course of a year, about 15% of all women will complain of vaginal symptoms that they consider to be a vaginal infection.  Only about half of these women will see their health care professional, and most will take a trip to their regular drugstore to purchase over-the-counter antifungal preparations.  This may help, but many times it may delay the true diagnosis and treatment.

The term vaginitis is often used to refer to the symptoms of a vaginal discharge, an itchy irritating sensation, and an abnormal odor.  Over my next few posts, we will touch on bacterial vaginosis, vulvovaginitis, and trichomoniasis.

-Dr. P

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