What Else Besides Yeast Infection Can Cause Vaginitis?
Vaginitis is caused by
- yeast infection
- bacterial vaginosis
- allergies and irritants
- lack of the hormone estrogen
Sometimes there is more than one cause.
Yeast Infection (Candidiasis)
Yeast infections are caused when a yeast called candida (CAN-di-duh) grows too much. Most people have small amounts of yeast in their mouths and intestines. Many healthy women have yeast in their vaginas. But sometimes this yeast grows too much and causes a yeast infection.
Yeast can grow too much when the normal condition of the vagina is changed by
- certain antibiotics
- certain drugs, such as cortisone
- a weak immune system
- normal changes in your hormone levels
- exposure to someone else's natural genital yeast/bacteria that reacts with your body chemistry
Not for Women Only
Men can also get yeast infections. Men with yeast infections may notice redness and irritation of the penis or scrotum. Although yeast infections are not contagious, contact with a partner may stimulate the yeast to grow too much.
Both women and men can get a yeast infection in the mouth or throat, or on the tongue. When this happens, it is called "thrush."
Bacterial Vaginosis (BV)
Healthy vaginas naturally have bacteria in them. Bacterial vaginosis is a condition caused by a change in the balance of different kinds of bacteria in the vagina. One of the most common kinds of bacteria is called gardnerella vaginalis.
Bacterial vaginosis is sometimes caused by sexual activity. It can upset the balance of normal bacteria that protect the vagina.
Trichomoniasis is a sexually transmitted infection. It is also know as "trich." Trich is one of the most common causes of vaginitis. Learn more about trich.
Allergies and Irritants
Some women are allergic to things put in the vagina. And some objects and chemicals left in the vagina may cause irritations. Both allergies and irritants can lead to vaginitis.
The vagina and vulva may have an allergy to or be irritated by
- "feminine hygiene" sprays
- scented panty liners, pads, or tampons
- perfumed soaps, bubble baths, or powders
- shampoos and hair conditioners
- scented or colored toilet paper
- laundry detergents (especially enzyme-activated "cold-water" formulas) and fabric softeners
- latex in diaphragms or condoms
- silicone in cervical caps or shields
- wearing tight pants, underwear, or pantyhose without a cotton crotch
- wearing wet bathing suits for long periods of time
- horseback riding
- rubbing against a bicycle seat
- hot tub and swimming pool water
Lack of Estrogen
Some women have a type of vaginitis called "atrophic vaginitis." Atrophic vaginitis is a vaginal irritation without a discharge. It is caused when a woman's level of estrogen falls.
Lowered estrogen levels happen during
- damage to the ovaries, or surgery to remove the ovaries
Lowered levels of estrogen make vaginal tissue dry and thin. It may also cause spotting. Estrogen creams and oral medicine can help.
Vaginitis is called "recurrent" if a woman has it four or more times a year. It can be caused by
- conditions like diabetes or HIV that weaken the immune system
- incomplete treatment of previous infections
- repeated new infections or irritations
It may be hard to find the cause and clear it up. Having recurrent vaginitis can be very frustrating. See your health care provider regularly if you have it.