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  • Vaginitis At Vaginosis, Pareho Lang Ba? An Expert Explains The Difference

    Here are the signs and symptoms, plus effective ways to prevent it.
    by Dahl D. Bennett .
Vaginitis At Vaginosis, Pareho Lang Ba? An Expert Explains The Difference
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  • Vaginitis and vaginosis are probably two conditions you often get mixed up, so we asked a medical specialist to tell us the difference.

    What is vaginitis?

    Dr. Ame Lopez, medical specialist II and the infectious diseases (ID) specialist consultant of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Region II Trauma and Medical Center, said vaginitis is a spectrum of conditions, with or without vaginal discharge, that include vaginal symptoms like:

    • a burning sensation
    • odor
    • itching
    • irritation
    • pain during intercourse
    • vaginal soreness

    What is the difference between vaginitis and bacterial vaginosis?

    "Bacterial vaginosis is less likely to cause symptoms on top of the change in vaginal discharge and presence of odor," Dr. Lopez explains.

    Is vaginitis infectious?

    Some kinds of vaginitis are infectious. "Trichomoniasis is exclusively sexually transmitted whereas bacterial vaginosis and vulvovaginal candidiasis can be acquired by women who are not sexually active," says Dr. Lopez.

    Citing studies, Dr. Lopez says that vulvovaginal candidiasis occurs in 17 to 39 % of women while trichomoniasis in 4 to 35% of women.

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    "Practices such as douching may increase the risk of acquiring trichomonas vaginalis, the parasite that causes the infection of Trichomoniasis," she explains.

    Systemic antibiotic use, diet high in refined sugars, and uncontrolled diabetes mellitus may increase the risk for acquiring vulvovaginal candidiasis.

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    "The other forms of vaginitis are not sexually transmitted and are not related to sexual activities," Lopez added.

    Other less common and non-infectious forms of vaginitis include:

    • atrophic vaginitis
    • irritant contact dermatitis
    • allergic contact dermatitis

    When do I need to see a doctor?

    Women who show these symptoms should consult their doctor:

    • vulvovaginal pruritus (itching)
    • soreness
    • dyspareunia (pain during sexual intercourse)
    • change in discharge character
    • associated vulvar lesions such as papules, vesicles, ulcers, and inguinal lymph nodes

    What happens if you leave vaginitis untreated?

    If you don't consult with your doctor, vaginitis may lead to other risks. For example, untreated vulvovaginal candidiasis can lead to persistent vulvar scratching.

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    This can then lead to an impulse to pick on your own skin, which can result to more scratching and subsequent superimposed bacterial infections that can be life-threatening.

    "The same condition associated with a change in vaginal discharge can also increase the risk of acquiring sexually transmitted infections, preterm birth, and other adverse pregnancy outcomes," Dr. Lopez said.

    Untreated trichomoniasis, on the other hand, could lead to pelvic inflammatory disease and infertility.

    And like other conditions under vaginitis, it may also increase a woman's risk of acquiring sexually transmitted infections, preterm birth, and other pregnancy complications.

    Good news is that such conditions like Trichomoniasis and vulvovaginal candidiasis have a very high cases of successful treatment. Some can be cured with single dose or one to three days of antibiotic treatment, according to Dr. Lopez.

    Can vaginitis go away on its own?

    For some conditions, yes.

    Some cases of bacterial vaginosis may resolve on their own particularly those presenting mild symptoms.

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    According to Dr. Lopez, those cases that are asymptomatic may not warrant intervention or treatment unless a patient is bothered by the presence of discharge.

    Uncomplicated vulvovaginal candidiasis (caused mainly by the yeast called candida albicans) may also resolve on its own if its predisposing factors (i.e. increased blood sugar in diabetes, presence of HIV, pregnancy, use of immunosuppressive agents such as steroids, etc,) is corrected.

    Immunocompromised state greatly predispose a woman to develop vulvovaginal candidiasis, according to Dr. Lopez.

    "Trichomoniasis, on the other hand, whether symptomatic or not, warrants treatment in all cases," says Dr, Lopez.

    "For atrophic vaginitis and the other non-infectious causes of vaginitis, treatment is almost always recommended because they are symptomatic," she adds.

    Can pregnant women get vaginitis?

    Yes, pregnant women, like any sexually active women and women of child-bearing age, are susceptible to conditions like trichomoniasis and vulvovaginal candidiasis.

    This is why OB-gynes routinely screen for signs and symptoms of the different causes of vaginitis during prenatal check-ups. If discovered, the condition should be monitored.

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    "For any new vulvar complaints or change in vaginal discharge, pregnant women are advised to consult their obstetricians," says Dr. Lopez.

    Even menopausal women can be susceptible to vaginitis. "Atrophic vaginitis, in particular, can occur in women of menopausal age. They can also manifest in women with high blood sugar levels which, again, may be more common during menopausal age when most diabetes mellitus are diagnosed," says Dr, Lopez.

    How do you prevent vaginitis?

    Depending on the kind of vaginitis one has, tips on how to prevent it may vary. 

    Trichomoniasis can be prevented by consistent condom use, avoiding sex altogether if you suspect you or your partner has it and until both of you are treated.

    Vulvovaginal candidiasis can be prevented by maintaining a normal blood glucose level, avoiding systemic use of antibiotics, and douching.

    Bacterial vaginosis can be prevented by avoiding douching, observing proper sexual hygiene practices, using mild soap and warm water over feminine wash, as they may contain antiseptic that can disrupt the normal vaginal flora.

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    Non-infectious vaginitis such as irritant contact dermatitis and allergic contact dermatitis can be prevented by avoiding common irritants such as strong and perfumed soaps, fabric softeners, douching, feminine wash, and vaginal sprays.

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