Vaginal Problems That Affect Your Sex Life
Vaginal disorders ranging from chronic infections to vaginitis, fibroids, and stress incontinence can damage your sexual health and general well-being.
Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is “the most common vaginal infection in
women of reproductive age,” according to the National Institutes of Health.
Women with BV may have a copious, thin grayish-white discharge -- or they may
Some studies suggest that untreated BV can cause pelvic inflammatory
disease, which can lead to infertility, so it’s important to seek treatment
from a health care provider, says Susan Kellogg, CRNP, PhD, director of Vulvar
Pain and Sexual Medicine at the Pelvic & Sexual Health Institute in
Philadelphia. Fortunately, BV is easily treated with oral or vaginal
caused by the overgrowth of one of several strains
of Candida, a fungus that lives normally in the vagina, are also common; three
in four women will have at least one at some point in their life. Women may
notice a thick white discharge with a slight odor. However, many women complain
of genital itching, soreness, or irritation.
Treatment is painless and easy; most women simply insert at bedtime a
prescribed cream or an ovule (a soft suppository) -- generally soothing but
messy -- or they can take a prescription oral antifungal such as Diflucan.
You’ll avoid the mess, but relief might take a few days longer.
Atrophic vaginitis can develop if you’re breastfeeding or taking
progestin-only birth control pills; both may cause a dip in estrogen levels.
This condition feels like an infection with burning, itching, and pain, but
there’s no active infection. Treatments such as estrogen creams or a vaginal
estrogen ring (inserted by your doctor) can help.
Trichomoniasis, a sexually transmitted infection, can cause a
greenish-yellow frothy discharge, with some itching and burning. Women might
notice irritation with intercourse. Like BV, “trich” is easily treated with
oral or vaginal antibiotics.
If you think you have any of these, see your doctor. Loading up on
over-the-counter creams will only make the problem worse if you have a
different type of infection. And whatever you do, don’t douche. “When a woman
douches, she rinses out the bacteria in question but also [healthy] bacteria
that are responsible for normal secretions,” says Kellogg.