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Dr. Archana Rao, Consultant Obstetrician & Gynaecologist, Lions Hospital, Escorts Heart Institute & Research Center, New Delhi

Abnormal vaginal discharge having unpleasant odour is a sign of vaginitis. Around 60-70% of women patients visiting OPD have been found experiencing Vaginitis which is validated by abnormal discharge and unpleasant odor. The abnormal vaginal discharge creates itching & irritation in vaginal area and smell very bad. An abnormal vaginal discharge makes a woman uncomfortable as she has a wet feeling in vaginal area and the discharge is sticky.

The positive sign is that women are opening up to the discussion related to vaginal issues and they consult to a gynecologist when they notice something abnormal around their vaginal area. There may be still some women who may suffer in silence but a larger group of women has broken the barrier of shyness and comfortably discuss these issues with Gynaecologist. We have noticed the surge in no. of women patients coming forward and discussing the issues.  Earlier these topics and issues remained too taboo for a woman that she hesitated in discussing it.  Although women have become open about discussing these issues, the worrying sign is that the problem is widely reported in unmarried girls. We see several girls complaining of abnormal vaginal discharge, the worrying point is that they found to be unmarried and sexually active. The unmarried girls negligent of sexual or vaginal disease do come in contact with multiple partners which results in vaginitis. We strongly advise these visiting patients that if you are sexually active, please avoid multiple partners as it not only create vaginal infection but can also lead to sexually transmitted disease. Multiple partner found to be a leading cause of vaginitis in most of the unmarried yet sexually active women.

In unmarried women too, the problem of vaginitis is quite common. Since a vaginal infection can be transmitted by the partner (Husband) we ask them to get their partner to test for the infection. Surprisingly, 90% of women don’t accept their husband responsible for the infection and only 10% of women feel to get their husband checked for the infection.

Vaginal infection also affects pregnant women. 50% of pregnant women reported to be found suffering with vaginitis or vaginosis which is characterized by burning sensation in vagina.

Although, vaginitis and vaginosis is characterized by vaginal discharge, vaginal itching, vaginal irritation, burning sensation, vaginitis can also cause abdominal pain. In fact bacterial vaginosis is debated for being one of the factor in infertility problems. Therefore, it is highly advised that vaginitis and vaginosis is prevented and managed very well in advance so as to avoid any related complication.

Vaginitis is quite common amongst obese and women with diabetes as they might experience increased vaginal discharge. The below precautionary may help in preventing vaginitis:

  1. Exercise regularly so as to avoid weight gain. Obese people are more prone to vaginitis
  2. Wear loose fitting clothes. Don’t wear synthetic clothes
  3. Maintain toilet hygiene. Especially women who are staying in hostel, or women working in offices, they are bound to use common toilets which are used by other women too. The toilet sheet can transmit the fungal infection so maintaining personal hygiene after using toilet is important. Or use toilet sheets which are in hygienic conditions
  4. Wash your vaginal area post urination



Content Courtesy: Women Health Organization, Everteen Feminine Intimate Health &Hygiene Survey. The article is part of educational campaign on vaginal health & hygiene “I for Intimate Hygiene”, conceptualized by Women Health Organization and supported by Everteen Natural Intimate Wash.

Disclaimer: The content and information provided in the article is for educational purpose only and should not be considered as a medical advice. One should consult a qualified healthcare practitioner for appropriate diagnosis and treatment. The author of the article does not endorse or recommend any product through this article.

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