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Gynaecological Infections - Signs & Symptoms To Watch Out For!

Written and reviewed by
Dr. Seema Saxena 85% (10 ratings)
MBBS, MS - Obs & Gynae (Gold Medalist)
Gynaecologist, Delhi  •  34 years experience
Gynaecological Infections - Signs & Symptoms To Watch Out For!

Most women suffer from gynaecological infection at least once in their life while some may suffer from them multiple times. The most common infections that affect women’s reproductive tracts are vulvitis, vaginitis, cervicitis and pelvic inflammatory disease or the dreaded PID. What’s even worse is the fact that these dangerous infections are often missed in women due to lack of information and the absence of health services, especially in rural parts of the country.

Let’s take a quick look at each one of the above four gynaecological infections:

Vulvitis
Vulvitis is an inflammation of the vulva, the tender folds of skin outside the vagina.

Common symptoms include-

  • Redness and swelling on the lips of the vulva
  • Itching
  • Clear, fluid-filled blisters
  • White, sore and thick patches on the vulva

Causes can include anything from the use of toilet paper, swimming in pools, synthetic underwear, rubbing against a bike seat, bubble baths to shampoos and deodorants…

Usually, urine tests, blood tests and tests for sexually transmitted diseases are used to diagnose this infection. Vulvitis can be caused due to a number of reasons and it’s also a symptom of other more dangerous diseases, hence its treatment is done taking all these factors into mind.

Treatment can include-

  • Avoiding irritants like swimming in pools
  • Sitz baths with soothing compounds for itch control

Vaginitis
Vaginitis refers to any inflammation of the vagina. Usually, the inflammation strikes the walls of the vagina. It can be infectious or non-infectious. This infection is common in women of all ages with one-third of women reporting suffering from the infection at some time during their lives.

Causes
These can be many like infection with bacteria, yeast, viruses etc. Chemicals in creams or sprays, and even clothing can cause the condition. It can be sexually transmitted too. Your hormones, overall health and other diseases you may have – all of these also determine whether you’ll get vaginitis. 

The 3 types of vaginitis are-

  1. Candidiasis
  2. Bacterial vaginosis
  3. Trichomoniasis vaginitis
  4. Viral vaginitis
  5. Noninfectious vaginitis

Vaginitis should always be taken seriously. If left untreated, vaginitis can cause PID which can lead to infertility. If you get a discharge- a frothy white discharge or a colourless discharge with a fishy disorder and see redness around your vagina and pain during urination or sex- don’t take it lightly, but fix an appointment with your gynaecologist ASAP. He or she will mostly treat you using antibiotics.

Cervicitis
This is an irritation or infection of the cervix. It is caused by a number of different organisms and it can be either acute or chronic. Common causes are sexually transmitted diseases or STDs like-

Symptoms

  1. Smelly discharge containing pus
  2. Pelvic pain
  3. Bleeding between periods or after sex
  4. Urinary issues

Pelvic exam and tests for STDs are used for diagnosing this infection. Treatment includes the use of antibiotics for the victim and her sexual partner to prevent re-infection.

Pelvic inflammatory disease
Pelvic inflammatory disease or PID is an infection that affects the woman’s entire reproductive tract like the uterus, fallopian tubes, and the ovaries. It causes scar tissue formation which grows between internal organs leading to chronic pelvic pain. PID can also lead to ectopic pregnancy or a pregnancy which happens when the fertilized egg grows outside the uterus. Untreated PIDs can lead to chronic infection and infertility.
The main cause of PID is bacteria. Intra uterine device use is also linked to PIDs.

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