What is Vaginitis?

The name for soreness and swelling around the vagina, vaginitis is common and, in many cases, easily treatable. However, there are many causes of vaginitis varying from hormonal to environmental. In this post we’re going to unpack the different types of vaginitis and their symptoms, so you know exactly what to look out for...

Illustration of a vulva surrounded by colorful circles

Symptoms of vaginitis

Depending on the cause, vaginitis can present with different symptoms. Some physical symptoms of vaginitis include:

  • An itchy or painful vagina
  • Change in color or consistency to vaginal discharge
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Pain during sex
  • Spotting or light bleeding
  • Sore, swollen, or cracked skin on the vulva 

Causes of vaginitis 

The causes of vaginitis vary depending on the type of vaginitis you may have. A dry vagina can be caused by various types of infections, a pH imbalance, or even by the hormonal changes that happen naturally in our bodies. 

If you’re experiencing vaginitis for the first time, or are unsure of what’s causing your symptoms, it’s always a good idea to speak to your healthcare provider as a first step to make sure you get the right diagnosis and treatment.

Now, let’s take a closer look at some of the different causes of vaginitis:

Thrush

Also known as candida, thrush is a type of yeast infection that causes itching, soreness, and a white lumpy discharge. Thrush is very common and easily treated with medication that you can get in the pharmacy or from your doctor if you haven’t been diagnosed with thrush in the past. 

Bacterial vaginosis (BV)

An infection caused by bacteria, symptoms of bacterial vaginosis include a strong odor that’s particularly noticeable after sex. There may also be changes to discharge, such as it becoming watery and greyish-white in color. A course of antibiotics is usually required to treat BV, although in many cases the condition is present without any symptoms. 

Hormonal changes and vaginitis

Not only do our hormone levels fluctuate throughout our menstrual cycles, but they also change throughout our lifetime depending on what’s happening in our bodies. Menopause can cause vaginitis, as can breastfeeding. There are steps you can take to treat vaginal dryness such as using lubricant during sex. 

Sexually transmitted infections and vaginitis

Some sexually transmitted infections such as chlamydia and trichomoniasis can also cause a dry, itchy vagina and pain during sex. Treating STIs can help ease discomfort caused by vaginitis.

Other causes of vaginitis

There is a delicate balance of pH in the vagina that can be upset when we use things like soap or creams in the vagina. You don’t need to clean your vagina, because the vagina is actually self-cleaning and doesn’t need any special washes. However, if you prefer to use something to clean your vagina, choose something gentle with a balanced pH. 

In some cases, using tampons can also cause vaginitis if the material of the tampon irritates the vagina. You might also find that certain materials or fabrics can do this too, so it’s best to choose underwear that’s loose-fitting and made from gentle fabrics like cotton.

Home testing for vaginitis

It’s now possible to diagnose and treat vaginitis from the comfort of your own home! We've partnered with home testing experts, Lets Get Checked to offer our US readers a 30% discount on vaginitis home testing kits using the code NATURALCYCLES. Purchasing a test kit also includes the cost of a medical consultation and any treatment required. 

You can also order home testing kits to check for STIs, available in the US, UK and Ireland from Lets Get Checked. Testing for sexually transmitted infections can help rule out certain causes of vaginitis. Explore more testing options online at letsgetchecked.com.

Keep in mind, that you may also be able to order home testing kits through your healthcare provider free of charge. Contact your healthcare professional to find out the options available to you.

Some things that help with vaginitis symptoms

While you might require antibiotics or other medication to treat vaginitis, there are a few steps you can take to lessen symptoms and prevent future cases of vaginitis. These include:

  • Using pads instead of tampons 
  • Regularly washing the vulva (the area around the vagina)
  • Thoroughly drying the vulva after washing
  • Not douching or cleaning inside the vagina with soap
  • Wearing loose, cotton underwear
  • Using condoms and lubricants during penetrative sex
  • Avoiding hot baths

Learn more about the changes happening in your body

Here at Natural Cycles, we’re passionate about closing the knowledge gap in female health - it’s part of our mission. Natural Cycles is a non-hormonal, non-invasive birth control method that’s FDA cleared in the US and certified in Europe. 

Not only can this medical device be used to help plan or prevent pregnancy, but Natural Cycles also enables you to track throughout your menstrual cycle so you can look out for changes to sex drive, skin, mood, and more.

Ready to get started?

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Written By

Jennifer Gray

A writer with a passion for women’s health, Jennifer Gray has years of experience writing about various reproductive health topics including birth control, planning pregnancy, women’s anatomy, and so much more.

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Scientifically Reviewed

Jack Pearson

With 10 years of experience working in the field of fertility, Jack Pearson is Natural Cycles’ in-house expert. As Medical Affairs Manager, he dedicates his time to conducting groundbreaking research and educating healthcare professionals.

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