Women’s Guide to Vaginitis (Vulvovaginitis):
An Overview

Prevention tips and treatment options for vaginitis

Vaginitis is a common infection in women. There are various types, and so there are different ways to prevent and treat these conditions. Below you’ll find possible signs, symptoms and treatments, but it’s always best to call and speak with your doctor right away.

Schedule an appointment with a knowledgeable and compassionate OB/GYN at All About Women if you have any health questions or concerns. Our North Florida office specializes in high-quality patient care and women’s health issues. We offer comprehensive women’s healthcare with personalized treatment using the latest technology.

What is vaginitis (vulvovaginitis)?

Vaginitis, also called “vulvovaginitis,” appears as an infection or inflammation of the vagina and vulva. This inflammation or infection occurs in women during their reproductive years.

Some of the most common types of vaginitis include:

  • Atrophic vaginitis. During menopause, the vaginal lining becomes thinner due to a change in estrogen levels. This decrease in estrogen makes some women more prone to infection.

  • Bacterial vaginosis. Bacterial vaginosis results from too much bacteria growth in the vulvovaginal area. Also, a low level of lactobacilli might cause abnormal bacterial production in the vagina.
  • Trichomonas vaginalis (or simply “trich”). Trichomonas vaginalis results from a parasite that gets passed through sexual contact. Other areas in the genital and urinary tract might also be affected.

  • Yeast infections. The fungus candida albicans causes an infection, sometimes with severe itching.

In a few cases, gonorrhea, chlamydia, poor hygiene, herpes and some parasites can cause vaginitis.

Unfortunately, you can get more than one type of vaginitis at the same time.

What are the symptoms of vaginitis and how is it diagnosed?

Common symptoms of this type of inflammation include:

  • Genital area inflammation

  • White, gray or foamy vaginal discharge

  • Itching, redness and swelling of the area around the vagina
  • Pain during urination

  • Pain during sexual intercourse

  • A foul smell coming from the vaginal area

To provide a diagnosis, your healthcare provider needs your medical history. Doctors also determine a vaginitis diagnosis in several ways. They might perform a pelvic exam or examine vaginal discharge. Vaginal pH levels might be monitored. A cell examination might be done for a specific diagnosis. Occasionally more testing needs to be done.

Natural and medical treatments for vaginitis

Some popular at-home treatments might include over-the-counter steroids and antifungal creams, but it’s hard to treat vaginitis by only treating the symptoms. You need a medical examination to determine which type of inflammation or infection you have to be treated correctly. This is especially true if you have diabetes or are pregnant.

What medical treatment you require depends on the type of infection occurring. Some of the medications that might be prescribed for a case of vaginitis include:

  • Topical steroids (low potency)

  • Topical or oral antibiotics

  • Antifungal or antibacterial creams
  • Cortisone creams

  • Antihistamines

  • Topical creams containing estrogen

Women with bacterial vaginal disorders might receive antibiotics like clindamycin or metronidazole. Additionally, women with fungal vaginitis get clotrimazole or fluconazole treatments.

Vaginitis affects a developing fetus, so please tell your doctor if you’re pregnant. Only specific treatments can be administered if you’re expecting.

How to prevent vaginitis and vulvovaginitis

Some women remain prone to developing vulvovaginitis. Diabetics and women experiencing hormonal changes such as menopause, pregnancy or breastfeeding tend to have a higher chance of getting the infection.

By avoiding these behaviors, you can help prevent vulvovaginitis:


✘ Having unprotected sex with more than 1 partner

✘ Taking corticosteroid medicines

✘ Wearing tight or damp underwear

✘ Using sprays and other feminine products that might irritate your vaginal area or cause an allergic reaction

While most women get vulvovaginitis at least once in their lifetime, certain practices might prevent such an infection. Some of the routine practices women might practice include:

✔ Having good hygiene and keeping clean

✔ Wiping from front to back after using the bathroom (This action keeps bacteria from spreading from the anus to the vaginal regions.)

✔ Using only unscented soaps, lotions and body washes

✔ Wearing absorbent cotton underwear

✔ Using a condom during sex

✔ Only taking antibiotics when necessary

Once correctly diagnosed, take your medications as directed. Also, avoid having sexual intercourse and using possibly irritating products for several days after you begin treatment to speed up your healing.

When to contact your OB/GYN

Our comfortable, compassionate staff treats each patient in a nurturing manner that develops trust between staff and patients. Whether you need care during pregnancy or consistent treatment as a female patient, you’ll get the treatment you need at All About Women.

Contact us for more information about vaginitis and to make an appointment.