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Causes of Vaginal Infection In Women

Understand and find out what are the common triggers and causes for vaginal infection (vaginitis) in women.

It is common for women to experience certain vaginal infections every now and then. Genital infections usually arise from various reasons like sexual intercourse, pregnancy, menopause and birth control. While 75% of women will get a vaginal infection at least once in their lifetime, some women may experience more serious cases that are in fact sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

Vaginal infection occurs when "bad" bacteria infect the area and lowers the acidity of the vagina that is maintained by the naturally occurring "good" bacteria, lactobacilli. When the acidity of the vagina starts to decrease, infection takes place and symptoms such as inflammation, pain and vaginal discharge with odor start to show.

Main triggers and common causes for vaginal infection in women include:

Menstruation and Tampons

Although tampons are generally safe to use, they may also be the cause of an infection in your vagina. The extended use of tampons is associated with toxic shock syndrome (TSS), which is a serious but rare bacterial infection. Women who use high absorbency tampons run a higher risk of getting TSS because they are kept in the vagina for an extended period of time. This provides a warm and moist environment for the "bad" bacteria to breed.

The main cause of TSS is the bacteria Staphylococcus aurea, which produces toxins that produces symptoms of the condition. Symptoms include high fever, vomiting, diarrhoea, headaches and muscle aches and pains.

Intercourse

Besides the risk of getting STDs through sexual intercourse, some women who are sensitive and more vulnerable to infections may get a vaginal infection after sex. This is due to the fact that the high pH of semen will delay the vagina’s pH restoration to its original acidity. During this stage, the woman is highly susceptible to an infection. As such is the case, it is always advisable that you and your partner practice safe sex with the use of condoms during intercourse if you are not trying to start a family.

Douching

While douching may initially seem to be helpful in keeping one’s vagina clean, it may in fact be more harmful!

Research proves that vaginal douching causes irritation and inflammation to vaginal tissues, which may lead to infections and also more occurrences of STDs.

Furthermore, douching on a regualr basis upsets the balance between the good and bad bacteria present in the vagina. Douching flushes away both good and bad bacteria, which can increase the chance of a woman getting vaginal yeast infection or bacterial vaginosis.

Last of all, women who douche also has a much greater chance of developing pelvic inflammatory disease which is a chronic condition that can cause serious infertility problems and, in the worse case scenarios, possible death if not treated.

Medication and Antibiotics

Some women who are on medication such as antibiotics may also run a risk of getting an infection.

While antibiotics kill bacteria, they may also get rid of the ones that protect the vagina from the overgrowth of yeast. Other medication may alter one’s immune system, thus becoming more prone to infections.

Oral Contraceptives

Birth control pills affect hormones and causes hormonal changes that are capable of lowering a woman’s ability to control Candida overgrowth, which can trigger or cause vaginal yeast infection. This is because yeast cells are stimulated by hormones present in oral contraceptives, causing the growth and possible overgrowth of yeast.

Hormonal Changes

Essentially, hormonal changes in women are among the main causes for vaginal infections. Menstruation, menopause and pregnancy bring about hormonal changes that can trigger an infection.

Before a woman starts her menstruation and during pregnancy, her body may undergoes several hormonal changes, which will produce more blood sugar that may trigger an infection.

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