Vaginitis is an inflammation of the vagina. It often is caused by infections, some of which are associated with serious diseases.
The most common vaginal infections are:
- Bacterial vaginosis
- Vaginal yeast infection
Some vaginal infections are transmitted through sexual contact, but others,
such as yeast infections, probably are not.
Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is the most common cause of vaginitis symptoms among
women of childbearing age. It previously was called nonspecific vaginitis or
Gardnerella-associated vaginitis. Health experts are not sure what role
sexual activity plays in BV.
BV reflects a change in the growth of vaginal bacteria. This chemical
imbalance occurs when different types of bacteria outnumber the normal, “good”
ones. Instead of Lactobacillus (a type of normal bacteria that can live
naturally in the vagina) being the most numerous, increased numbers of bacteria
such as Gardnerella vaginalis, Bacteroides, Mobiluncus, and
Mycoplasma hominis are found in the vaginas of women with BV.
Researchers are studying the role that each of these germs may play in causing
BV, but they do not yet understand the role of sexual activity in developing BV.
A change in sexual partners, using an IUD (intrauterine device), and douching
may increase a woman’s risk of getting BV.