Vaginal itch? Pain down there? Or smelly odour and discharge? Here are six possible causes of a vaginal infection.
Improper hygiene or sexual intercourse could contribute to vaginal infections. (Photo: djem / www.123rf.com)
Vaginal infections occur when bacteria, fungi or other organisms grow uncontrolled. Infectious organisms can also be inadvertently introduced into the vagina by improper hygiene or during sex.
Yeast Infection (or Candidiasis)
Most women have a vaginal yeast infection (candidiasis) at some point of time in their lives. A vaginal yeast infection is caused by fungus of the genus Candida, microorganisms that are normally present in the vagina.
“The use of antibiotics is one of the most common causes of a vaginal yeast infection as antibiotics can change the pH balance of the vagina, allowing yeast to overgrow,” said Dr Seng Shay Way, Specialist in Obstetrics and Gynaecology & Consultant, Raffles Fertility Centre.
Urinary Tract Infection
One in two women have experienced a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI). In fact, some women suffer from repeat infections for years on end. UTIs are the key reason we are advised to wipe from front to back after using the bathroom, as bacteria from the anus can invade the urethra. From there, they can travel up to the bladder, and if the infection isn’t treated, continue on to infect the kidneys.
Women may be especially prone to UTIs because they have shorter urethras, which allow bacteria quick access to the bladder. Having sex can introduce bacteria into the urinary tract too.
Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) is the most common vaginal infection in women. It is a type of vaginal inflammation that results from the overgrowth of one of several types of bacteria normally present in the vagina, upsetting the natural balance of vaginal bacteria.
Doctors don’t know exactly why Bacterial Vaginosis develops, but certain activities, such as unprotected sexual intercourse or frequent douching, put you at higher risk of the condition. BV can also cause a fishy odour in the nether regions. Other symptoms include vaginal discharge, itching and a burning sensation.
Could your partner’s condom be the cause? (Photo: kerryank / www.pixabay.com)
Vaginal latex allergy symptoms can sometimes mimic other conditions, except that you will notice the symptoms during or after sex when a condom was used, or during or after a medical examination whereby latex gloves were used. Vaginal itch, though it is common, will be more pronounced after latex contact and may be combined with swelling and burning.
Vaginitis is an inflammation of the vagina, and affects women of all ages. Infections, irritants and allergies can lead to vaginitis. The risk is increased if a woman uses coloured or scented toilet paper, perfumes, panty liner and other products on the genital area.
While rare, it is possible for a woman to develop an allergy to the proteins in semen. This condition is known as human seminal plasma protein hypersensitivity. Most cases involve only itching and swelling after sex, but in some cases it can be life-threatening. Research shows that certain women are allergic to certain men but not to others.
This article was written by Pameline Kang and first appeared in Raffles Healthnews. It has been adapted for www.shape.com.sg.