Vaginitis is an inflammation of the lining of the vagina. Symptoms include itching, burning, painful urination, and vaginal discharge. There are many different treatment options, both natural and medical. Choosing the best vaginitis treatment depends on knowing the cause, which can often only be determined by a medical professional.
Bacterial, fungal or parasitic infections can all cause vaginitis. Less common causes are reactions to products such as soaps or tampons, or hormonal changes. The symptoms of vaginitis are largely the same for all causes, which is why it is important to see a health care provider before beginning any treatment regimen. Complications of untreated vaginitis include infertility, pregnancy complications, endometritis, and an increased risk of contracting a sexually transmitted infection.
Approximately 40 to 50 percent of all vaginitis cases are caused by bacterial vaginosis. Bacterial vaginosis happens when the natural balance of bacteria in the vagina is upset, and the growth of one or more strains of bacteria gets out of control. In addition to the itching and burning associated with all forms of vaginitis, bacterial vaginosis may cause a fishy-smelling milky discharge. Bacterial vaginosis is commonly treated with antibiotics.
Yeast infections account for approximately 20 to 25 percent of vaginitis cases. The cause of a yeast infection is similar to that of bacterial vaginosis; there is an overgrowth of yeast normally present in the vagina. This causes vaginitis symptoms as well as a thick, white discharge that can resemble cottage cheese. Antibiotics may cause a yeast infection because they kill the good bacteria in the vagina that keeps the yeast in check. Yeast infections are treated with anti-fungal medications, available by prescription or over-the-counter.
Trichomoniasis is a sexually transmitted infection caused by a parasite. It makes up about 15 to 20 percent of vaginitis cases. Trichomoniasis is distinguished by yellow to gray discharge with a foul smell. An antibiotic drug is typically used to treat it.
Natural treatments for vaginitis are available and can be used instead of or in conjunction with medications. Acidophilus has been shown to help re-balance the vaginal environment. It is available in both pill and powder form, and is also present in yogurt. All of these preparations can be taken orally or inserted vaginally. If using yogurt vaginally, make sure it is plain, not flavored.
Garlic is another natural remedy that can be an effective vaginitis treatment. It can be eaten in any form to offer antibacterial and anti-fungal benefits. If you wish to use garlic internally, wrap a peeled clove in gauze, and then insert it. The garlic should be left in place overnight, for at least six nights.
Bacterial vaginosis can be naturally treated with cranberry juice. At least four ounces a day is the recommendation. Cranberry pills are available as an alternative to juice.
Tea tree oil can be an effective vaginitis treatment. Mix proportions of 1 part tea tree oil and 2 parts vitamin E oil. Soak a tampon in the mixture, and insert. This can be done for up to six weeks.
If symptoms are related to menopause, estrogen is a viable treatment option. Menopause can cause vaginal irritation even if no infection is present. If you think your vaginitis may be caused by an allergy or sensitivity, avoid scented feminine hygiene products and soaps.