Vaginitis causes abnormal vaginal discharge; however, some women with vaginitis do not have any discharge. Not all changes in a woman's vaginal discharge indicate vaginitis. Normal hormonal changes may alter the amount and appearance of the discharge.
While bacterial vaginosis may produce a fishlike odor, half of patients with this type of vaginitis do not complain of any symptoms.
Trichomoniasis often occurs without symptoms in women and men. Women, however, may experience profuse, thin, yellow-green or gray discharge, painful urination and intercourse, external itching and redness, and sometimes lower abdominal pain. Trichomoniasis may also produce a fishlike odor.
Yeast infections create a burning or itching sensation, and may produce a thick, white, cottage cheese-like discharge. Not all patients experience the discharge. Intercourse and urination may become painful. Men often have no symptoms, or they may develop a rash after having sex with a woman who is infected. Doctors are not certain if yeast infections can be transmitted by sexual contact.
An abnormal discharge may occur with allergic vaginitis.
Post-menopausal women with atrophic vaginitis may experience vaginal itching, burning, and pain with light bleeding after intercourse.
Risk factors differ depending on the type of vaginitis.
A new sexual partner, multiple sex partners, cigarette smoking, and douching increase the risk of bacterial vaginosis.
Yeast infections often occur (in order of relative frequency) as a result of pregnancy, antibiotic use, poor nutrition, stress, using oral contraceptives, or as a result of uncontrolled diabetes mellitus, HIV/AIDS, or use of immunosuppressive drugs. Antibiotics kill the normal bacteria that live in the vagina, allowing yeast to grow unchecked. HIV/AIDS limits the body's ability to fight an infection. Pregnancy and oral contraceptives alter hormone levels, and uncontrolled diabetes changes the normal vaginal environment. Douching, feminine hygiene sprays, sitting around in a wet bathing suit, and wearing tight pants can contribute to yeast infections.
Sex without a condom puts women at risk for sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS, gonorrhea, and trichomoniasis, among others.
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