Vaginal infections are one of the most common problems affecting the female reproductive organs. These infections are not only uncomfortable but can affect a woman's fertility if left untreated. If you suspect you are infected or are suffering from a vaginal infection, it is crucial to visit a gynecologist. Getting a gynecologist who makes you feel comfortable in such situations can be quite overwhelming. At all women's Care, we ensure your visit to the gynecologist is healthy, and above all, you can express your problems and get help. Our well knowledgeable professionals provide expert, friendly, and effective consultation and care services to women across Los Angeles, CA.
Overview of Vaginal Infections
There is a wide variety of infections that can affect the female genitalia. Vaginal infections may be caused by fungi, bacteria, viruses, or parasites found in the vulva and vagina of a woman. Most of these infections will manifest in symptoms such as soreness, itching, or discharge. It is often normal and healthy for a woman to produce vaginal discharge during different times in the reproductive cycle.
However, an abnormal change in color smell and consistency of the discharge alongside other symptoms may be an indication of vaginal infection. Most of these infections are not severe and can be easily treated. However, severe infections that are left untreated can have adverse effects on your reproductive health. That's why it is essential to visit a gynecologist if you think you are exposed or already noticing the symptoms of these infections. The following are some of the most common vaginal infections:
- Vaginal yeast infection
- Bacterial vaginosis
- Chlamydia trachomatis
- Genital herpes
- Genital warts
Vaginal Yeast Infection
Vaginal yeast infection is an infection that results from fungi, and it causes severe irritation to tissues of the vagina and vulva opening. The vagina contains a strain of fungi whose levels are kept in control by bacteria. Sometimes the fungi levels get out of control leading to a yeast infection. A vaginal yeast infection is not always sexually transmitted diseases. However, there is an increased risk of suffering from this infection on the first sexual encounter. Also, it has been linked with oral-genital sex. The factor that increases your risk of developing vaginal yeast infection include:
- Increase in levels of estrogen. Women who have high estrogen levels, especially the pregnant ones, are at a higher risk of suffering from vaginal yeast infections. Also, women who do home therapy with estrogen or are on birth control pills may suffer from this condition.
- Use of antibiotics. The vagina of a healthy woman contains bacteria that keep the balance of yeast. Consumption of medicines will kill the harmful and sometimes the good bacteria. This will cause an overgrowth of yeast, leading to vaginal yeast infections.
- Weak immune function. Individuals with lower immunity, which is a result of chronic illnesses, are at a higher risk of developing yeast infections.
- Diabetes Mellitus. Diabetes causes a high sugar level in the blood, which is a conducive environment for fungal growth. Therefore, women with poorly controlled blood sugar are more likely to develop this condition.
- Vaginal yeast infection presents itself in the following symptoms, which could range from minor to severe.
- Irritation and itching of the vagina walls which in harsh conditions can cause extensive swelling and redness
- Experiencing a burning sensation especially when passing urine or during sexual intercourse
- Vaginal itch and sores which result from scratching the itchy areas
- Vaginal discharge which is thick cottage cheese-like and has no odor
- Watery vaginal discharge
If you are not sure whether you have a vaginal infection but are having any of the above symptoms, you should make an appointment with the doctor. Also, if you do not get relieved from over the counter drugs, it is essential to get checked by a gynecologist. To reduce the risk of suffering vaginal yeast infection, you should:
- Avoid tight-fitting underwear but rather wear cotton underwear that does not fit too tight.
- Also, you should avoid vaginal douching since it gets rid of useful bacteria from the vagina.
- Not take antibiotics regularly
- Avoid overstaying with wet workout attire, underwear, or swimsuits.
Bacterial vaginosis is an inflammation of the vagina walls that results from bacteria overgrowth. The vagina contains a strain of bacteria that are not harmful when controlled. However, when these bacteria get out of control, they can cause inflammation. Bacterial vaginosis affects women of all ages, and most women suffer from this condition at one point in their lives. Factors that increase your risk of bacterial vaginosis
- Lack of lactobacilli bacteria. Lactobacilli bacteria in your vagina helps keep the levels of harmful bacteria low. If you naturally lack these bacteria, you are more likely to develop bacterial vaginosis.
- Douching is rising and cleaning out your vagina with a cleansing agent. This disrupts the balance of good bacteria in the vagina and can lead to bacterial vaginosis. Your vagina is self-cleansing thus no need for douching.
- Multiple sex partners. Although the exact link is not known, women who engage in unprotected sex with numerous partners are at a higher risk of suffering from this infection.
- Depending on the dosage and frequency of consumption, smoking cigarettes has been strongly associated with contraction and recurrence of bacterial vaginosis. Women who smoke are more likely to suffer bacterial vaginosis compared to their counterparts.
In most cases, the signs of bacterial vaginosis do not manifest until the condition becomes severe. Sometimes the symptoms resemble those of other sexually transmitted infections
.However, it is essential to look out for green or gray vaginal with a fishy smell since it is the most common symptom of this condition. Also, you may feel a burning sensation when urinating and itching. Severe bacterial vaginosis can result in the following complications:
- Sexually transmitted infections. If you are suffering from bacterial vaginosis, you are more susceptible to other sexually transmitted diseases like chlamydia, herpes, and HIV. Also, bacterial vaginosis increases the risk of you transmitting HIV to your partner.
- Pelvic inflammatory disease. Bacterial vaginosis can cause PID, which increases your risk of infertility and other reproductive complications.
- Preterm birth. If you contract bacterial vaginosis during pregnancy, you are more likely to give birth to a preterm and most likely low birth weight baby.
It is crucial to use mild soaps and unscented tampons to protect yourself from bacterial vaginosis infection or recurrence. Also, you should avoid having multiple sexual partners and douching. If you have been exposed to bacterial vaginosis, it is crucial to seek medical help for screening and treatment before your condition gets severe.
Chlamydia is a bacterium that replicates in human cells and is often sexually transmitted. Mild chlamydia can be treated using over the counter medications. However, if left untreated, severe chlamydia can cause other health problems like blindness. Factors that increase your risk of contracting chlamydia are:
- Engaging in sexual activity before the age of twenty-five years. The rate of infection with chlamydia is higher in younger sexually active women and its essential to get screened regularly
- History of prior sexually transmitted diseases. If you have had another sexually transmitted infection in the past, it is crucial to go for testing in these cases.
- Having multiple sex partners within the past year.
- Not using latex condoms consistently
- Pregnancy does many changes in your body, and therefore, you should be tested at the beginning and the end of your pregnancy
During the early stages, there are a few signs and symptoms and will not be easily noticed. In severe conditions, you may experience:
- Lower abdominal pain
- Abnormal vaginal discharge
- Bleeding during and after sexual intercourse
If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, it is wise to seek medical attention by visiting a gynecologist. This will help in early diagnosis and treatment of chlamydia.
When you go for testing, a sample of your urine will be examined in the laboratory to indicate a sign of infection. Also, the discharge from your vagina will get tested for chlamydia. If you have been treated for chlamydia before, it is crucial to go for a regular checkup to avoid the recurrence of the infection. The following are complications that come with chlamydia Trochomatis:
- Pelvic inflammatory disease. PID an infection of the uterus and fallopian tubes is more likely to affect women with chlamydia Trochomatis.
- Other sexually transmitted infections. If you have suffered chlamydia Trochomatis, you are at a higher risk of developing other sexually transmitted diseases.
- Even when no signs are observed, chlamydia can cause injury and scarring of the fallopian tubes making it difficult to conceive.
- Women who have had chlamydia are more susceptible to developing reactive arthritis, which is also known as Reiter's syndrome. This is a condition which affects the joints and eyes as well as the urethra.
The safest and most sure way through which you can protect yourself from chlamydia Trochomatis is by completely abstaining from sexual activities. Short of that, you can:
- Consistently use latex condoms during all sexual encounters, especially with a new partner. However, you should know that condoms reduce the risk of infection but not wholly eliminate it.
- Regular checkups with a gynecologist. Sometimes chlamydia does not produce symptoms. If you are sexually active, you need all with a new partner yourself from chlamydia to get regular screening. This will help to detect and treat chlamydia and other sexually transmitted infections.
- Limit the number of sexual partners
- Avoid douching. Douching decreases the level of good bacteria in the vagina, which increases the risk of infection.
Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted infection that affects may women. This infection is caused by a virus known as herpes simplex, and it stays in the body for some time before you start to observe some symptoms. There is no cure for genital herpes. However, treatment and medication aimed at relieving the intensity of the symptoms. In most cases, you may not quickly realize that you have genital herpes since it does not initially have symptoms.
However, when the infection has progressed, you may experience symptoms such as Red and white blisters in the vagina, which appear a few weeks after infection. Sometimes these blisters will rupture oozing blood or puss. Also, you may experience severe itching and pain in the affected area, which heals leaving scabs.
The symptoms of genital herpes differ from person to person and can recur for years, even after treatment. Factors which increase your risks of contracting genital herpes:
- Being a woman. Although genital herpes affects both men and women, being a woman increases the risk of infection. Also, the disease is easily transferred from a man to a woman.
- Having multiple sexual partners. Each additional partner you engage with increases your risk of developing genital herpes
Severe genital herpes predisposes you to other sexually transmitted infections. Also, the sores which result from genital herpes on the vagina can cause inflammation of the urethra. In very severe cases of untreated genital herpes, the infection can cause inflammation of the membranes carrying the cerebral spinal fluid, causing meningitis.
Babies born from mothers who are struggling with genital herpes are likely to contract the virus leading to blindness. If you contract genital herpes during pregnancy, it is essential to consult a doctor immediately you feel the symptoms. In most cases, you will have to take antiviral medication for herpes throughout the pregnancy. If the infection does not clear, you will deliver through the caesarian section to avoid infecting the baby.
When you visit your doctor, they will diagnose genital herpes based on physical examination and samples. Your blood and tissue from the sores will be analyzed from the laboratory. This is because some symptoms of genital herpes resemble those of other sexually transmitted infections. Since there is no cure for this infection, this treatment is aimed at:
- Helping sores from the initial outbreak to heal
- Reducing the frequency of recurrence
- Lessening the severity and impact of the symptoms
- Minimize the chances of passing the herpes virus to your partner.
The methods of preventing genital herpes are almost similar to that of preventing other STIs. These include regular checkups, avoiding multiple sexual partners as well as frequent use of a latex condom during every sexual encounter.
Trichomoniasis is a sexual infection that occurs mostly in women. Trichomoniasis affects the vagina and urethra. Trichomoniasis is caused by a parasite that travels from one individual to another through sexual intercourse and its incubation period ranges between five twenty-eight days. Most individuals who suffer from this infection lack symptoms but those that manifest I woe are:
- Burning, itching, and redness in the vagina. Constant scratching of the area may cause sores and bleed
- Pain during urination and sexual intercourse. This is as a result of inflammation of the urethra
- A foul-smelling vaginal discharge whose color ranges from grey to yellow or green.
If you have a history of Trichomoniasis or other sexually transmitted infection, you are at a higher risk of getting infected. Therefore, it is essential to go for regular checkups. If you suffer from Trichomoniasis, while pregnant, you are likely to deliver a premature, low birth weight baby. Also, you may pass the infection to the baby as it passes through the birth canal, causing brain damage.
The diagnosis of Trichomoniasis is made using your vaginal fluid and urine and is treated using antibiotics. If you have a sex partner, it is crucial to get treatment for both of you. This will help prevent the recurrence of the condition.
Genital warts are one of the most common sexually transmitted infection affecting the vagina. Almost all people who are sexually active will suffer from this infection at one point or another in their lives. Genital warts are caused by the human papillomavirus, that affects more women compared to men. This infection affects the moist part of the vagina, and it looks like small flesh-colored bumps with a cauliflower shape. In women, genital warts grow in the vulva and vaginal walls. According to the Centre of disease and prevention, if you are sexually active, you are at risk of developing a type of HPV condition at a point in your life. The risk factors of genital warts are:
- Having had another sexually transmitted infection
- Engaging in sex with a person whose status is unknown or could be a carrier of the human papillomavirus
- Being sexually active at a young age
- Having multiple sexual partners and having sex without a condom
If you suffer from genital warts, you are at risk of developing:
- Complications during pregnancy. Genital warts can cause difficulty in urinating since they may grow bigger and cover the urethra. Also, vaginal warts reduce the ability of the vaginal walls to stretch during childbirth. When extended, larger warts can bleed, leading to infection of the child. Genital warts passed during pregnancy affect the child's throat, making it difficult to breathe and may require surgery after birth.
- HPV virus which causes genital warts that are also liked to cancer of the cervix and that of the vulva. Although genital warts don't necessarily lead to cancer, it is crucial to get regular screening and treatment.
As a sexually active woman, it is vital to go for regular checkups. This will help in early detection and treatment for genital warts. Since the symptoms of genital warts are not always evident, your doctor may have to apply acetic acid to white your genital area and show warts. If you are experiencing the symptoms of genital warts, avoid treating yourself with over the counter medication. They may increase the itching causing you more discomfort. In extreme cases where the warts are large or occur during pregnancy, the doctor may recommend surgery to remove them.
By avoiding unprotected sex ad limiting the number of sexual partners, you can reduce your risk of developing genital warts. Also, you can get a Gardasil vaccine which will protect you from HPV related infections.
Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted infection caused by bacteria. It is easily treated when detected early but in severe conditions may result in pelvic inflammatory disease and infertility. Upon infection, gonorrhea will not only affect the genitals but can also affect the mouth throat and eyes. Symptoms of gonorrhea which may appear between one day and two weeks after infection include:
- Green or Yellow vaginal discharge
- Heavy periods
- Pain and bleeding during sexual intercourse
- Swelling of the vaginal walls and the vulva
- Painful, frequent urination
- Painful abdominal and pelvic area
If left untreated, severe gonorrhea has numerous complications such as pelvic inflammatory disease which causes inflammation of the uterus and fallopian tubes, making it difficult to conceive. Also, PID can cause infertility as well as ectopic pregnancies. Moreover, untreated gonorrhea can result in gonococcal infection, which is characterized by arthritis, fever, and dermatitis. Suffering from this infection puts you at a high risk of contracting HIV. If you have gonorrhea during pregnancy, there are high chances of passing the disease to the child as they pass through the birth canal.
Ways through which you can protect yourself from this infection are:
- Having sex with a mutually monogamous partner who is not infected
- Regular visits to the gynecologist for you and your partner
- Using condoms and dental dams for vaginal and oral sex respectively
If you or your sex partner has been exposed to gonorrhea or is experiencing any symptoms of the infection, you should speak with a gynecologist to get screened and treated.
There is a wide range of vaginal infections that can affect a woman. Some are sexually transmitted, while others are caused by general body health and hygiene. If you are suffering from a vaginal infection, it would be wise to seek the help of a gynecologist from All Women's Care. We assist you in understanding the treated options available for your specific condition and allow you to make a well-informed choice. For more information and treatment for the situation you are struggling with, contact us today at 213-250-9461.