A vaginal discharge that some people think is kind of smelly, itching that can be light or furious, and irritation or pain are the key symptoms of vaginitis.
This is a problem for many women, but especially common after menopause.
The vaginal environment is slightly acidic for much of our lives, but when estrogen decreases, it becomes more alkaline. A more alkaline environment—referred to as a higher pH level—can invite new bacteria or an overgrowth of yeast or other bacteria. The extra bacteria may cause infections of the vaginal tissues, the urethra, or both. Vaginal dryness makes these infections hard to fight. Vaginitis plus vaginal dryness together can mean a miserable quality of life.
Using creams or yogurt or washes not designed to treat vaginitis and its smelly discharge can make the problem worse by irritating these very sensitive tissues or delaying treatment of the condition.
To help maintain a healthy vaginal environment to discourage the symptoms of vaginitis, you have plenty of options in over-the-counter products for moisturizing and pH balancing. For active infections, seek treatment from your family doctor, gynecologist, or menopause specialist.
Learn about the actions you could take, listed at right, to address this condition or see other conditions that could affect you.