Vaginal Infection

What is vaginal Infection?

Vaginal infection occurs when the microenvironment over these genital region is altered leading to overgrowth and/or colonization of pathogens, causing abnormal vaginal symptoms.

Experiencing vaginal discharge does not necessarily means vaginal infection. All women do invariably experience vaginal discharge throughout their lives. The womb, the cervix and vagina have secretory glands that produce fluid to keep the vagina area moisturized and clean.

Healthy vaginal discharge is usually watery (serous), colorless or milky white and odourless. Every woman has a different consistency and amount of discharge.

What are the common causes of vaginal infection?

Bacterial infection such as Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) , Ureaplasma spp, Mycoplasma spp, Trichomoniasis.

Fungal infection such as Candida albicans spp.

Sexually transmitted infections such as Chlamydia Trachomatis and Neisseria gonorrhea.

Vaginal discharges and irritation can occur in ladies after menopause. This is due to the sharp depletion of body estradiol leading to vaginal thinning and atrophy, and this can lead to a condition known as atrophic vaginitis.

Other causes of vaginal infection include;

  • Retaining of tampon
  • Prolonged use of tampon
  • Use of fragrant tampons/ panty liners
  • Douching habits leading to irritation to the vagina leading to vaginal infection.

What are the symptoms of vaginal infection?

You may experience vaginal symptoms such as

  • Pain
  • Itch
  • Burning or hot sensation
  • Excessive and persistent vaginal discharge
  • Vaginal discharge with different color, thickness, consistency, odor
  • Painful urination
  • Lower pelvic or abdominal pain
  • Fever

Is vaginal infection painful?

Vaginal infection can cause pain, discomfort and reduce significantly a person’s quality of life.

Who is at risk of vaginal infection in Singapore?
Ladies with early age of first sexual encounter, history of multiple sexual partner, history of change of partner, underlying medical condition that affects immunity are at higher risk of vaginal infection.

How is vaginal infection diagnosed?
Vaginal infection can be diagnosed astutely from your history/symptoms, physical examination of your genital region, and vaginal swab tests. In patients with higher risk factor with symptoms to suggest pelvic inflammatory conditions, your doctor may advise for ultrasound pelvis as well.

What are the treatment options for vaginal infection?
Depending on the causes of vaginal infection, your doctor may prescribe you medication in the form of oral tablets, suppositories, wash, cream or gel. Your doctor may also counsel you on lifestyle management to reduce the recurrence of vaginal infection.

Vaginal Infection

FAQS

Vaginal discharges can be normal and due to the change of body hormonal physiology. This typical occurs throughout the menstrual changes, hence the lady may experience a cyclical, pattern-like changes of discharges.

Ladies who are taking oral contraceptive pills may experience vaginal discharges as well. Oral contraceptive pills are made up of hormones to regulate menstrual cycle. These external hormones will affect the physiological environment of the vagina leading to discharges that are predictable and cyclical.

Pregnant ladies can experience normal vaginal discharges in view of hormonal changes when carrying their babies.

If you notice unusual vaginal discharge symptoms as above, you should see your doctor for checkup. Depending on your risk of exposure for example change of partner/multiple partner, your doctor may advise for STD vaginal swab tests to rule out men and women related infection.

Depending on your cause of vaginal infection, certain female-related vaginal infection can run a wax and wane course. Patients with vaginal infection that are sexually transmitted are encouraged to inform their partner to get tested and treated to prevent recurrence of vaginal infection. Your doctor will also discuss on general lifestyle measures to reduce or prevent recurrence of vaginal infection.

Your doctor may advise for a comprehensive vaginal swab test to screen for both female related vaginal infection and sexually transmissible causes of vaginal infection. This is because when a lady is experiencing an infection over the vagina, she is more susceptible for a subsequent (2nd/ 3rd/ 4th) vaginal infection.

To maintain good vaginal health, comprehensive vaginal swab test allows a quick check and holistic treatment of underlying infections. This will treat the root of the problem, alleviates symptoms, avoid/reduce the recurrence of vaginal infection.

Vaginal swab tests are generally tolerated well among patients. You are encouraged to let your doctor know if you have low threshold for pain.

Vaginal swab tests can be performed in clinic settings. Your doctor will insert a speculum (sterile vaginal opening device) to examine the inner wall of the vagina and the cervix. Your doctor will then use various swabs and brushes to obtain sample from the vagina wall and the discharge fluid to send them for laboratory testing.

Turnover time is around a week, as you may be experiencing vaginal discomfort symptoms, your doctor may prescribe you medication to alleviate the symptoms while waiting for the final results to be ready.

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