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Taipei City Hospital


Be Cautious of Vaginitis in the Cold Winter

As winter approaches, women like to wear tights or leggings to keep warm. As the vagina has been kept in a warm, humid condition for a long time, many women often find increasing vaginal secretion and change of its color and smell several days later, which turns out to mean that they may already be suffering from vaginitis after diagnosis.

Xie Hui-ting, attending doctor of the Family Medicine Department in the Linsen Chinese Medicine Kunming Branch of Taipei City Hospital, says that the pH value of Lactobacillus acidophilus in a healthy vagina is maintained at 4.0-4.5, which can achieve dynamic equilibrium with other endogenous flora. However, poor ventilation, use of contraceptive drugs and antibiotics, and other factors influence the vaginal environment and lead to the change of vaginal secretion; when such symptoms are accompanied by local itching, pain or thick secretions, they are indications of vaginitis.

The three most common causes are:
1. Bacterial vaginosis
Frequent vaginal douching, use of women’s hygiene products containing aromatics, and even menstruation itself, can change the pH value in normal vagina, causing the overgrowth of pathogenic bacteria and inducing bacterial vaginosis.

2. Candidal vaginitis
Most pathogens are Candida albicans and the common symptoms are extreme itching of the vagina or vulva, vulvar papulopustular dermatitis, vaginal swelling and bleeding, burning sensation during urination or sexual intercourse, painful urination, frequent urination and white cheese-like or residue-like vaginal secretion, which often occurs prior to menstruation, improves during menstruation and then deteriorates afterwards.

3. Trichomonas vaginosis
It is caused by the infection of a unicellular parasite called trichomonas and the typical symptom is a large amount of smelly yellow-green vaginal secretion, which is thin and frothy. Trichomoniasis is a sexually transmitted disease and often occurs simultaneously with bacterial vaginitis and other sexually transmitted diseases, so it must be screened whether there are other sexually transmitted diseases. Usually men have no symptoms, but the treatment and follow-up visits are still required to prevent the cross infection and the recurrence of vaginitis.

Dr. Xie reminds us that vaginitis is a common gynecological disease and suggests that women with vaginitis symptoms shall seek the help of professional physicians, confirm the causes through an examination and take correct drugs, to achieve good curative effects and avoid recurrence.