Colpitis: Symptoms and Treatment

Colpitis: Symptoms and Treatment

Colpitis is a common disease that affects an exceptionally beautiful half of humanity. And it affects a rather intimate area, namely, the vaginal area. Statistics show that colpitis (in gynecology also known as vaginitis) 60% of women endured in one form or another. Thus, the disease can be considered the most common among gynecological diseases.

Description of the disease

What is this disease, and how does it occur? At first glance, everything is very simple. The internal cavity of the vagina is deep enough, moisturized and not separated from the environment. Thus, it is an ideal breeding ground for pathogens.

However, normally this does not happen. The mucous membrane of the vagina in healthy women is usually not subjected to inflammation caused by infection. How is this phenomenon explained? The fact is that the vagina has microscopic defenders. These are bacteria belonging to the type of lactobacilli, and, more precisely, Dederlein sticks. They colonize the vaginal mucosa by about 97%. They themselves are quite harmless and do not cause inflammatory processes.

Colpitis: Symptoms and Treatment
Photo: Kateryna Kon / Shutterstock.com

However, their interaction with the woman’s body can be called beneficial for both parties. In the process of vital activity, Dederlein sticks produce hydrogen ions, increasing the acidity of the mucous membrane. And most other bacteria are not able to live in an acidic environment. Also Dederleyn sticks emit hydrogen peroxide and a number of other substances hazardous to other microorganisms. Thus, Dederleyn sticks get rid of competitors and, at the same time, benefit the female body.

Another useful microflora function is the production of certain vitamins necessary for the functioning of the vaginal mucosa. However, it cannot be said that there are no other representatives of microflora in the vagina. In total, up to 40 species of microorganisms inhabit the vagina. True, their numbers are small.

But the number of Dederleyn sticks is also subject to fluctuations. Under certain conditions, they may become smaller than usual, and they will not be able to perform their protective function. As a result, the mucous membrane of the vagina will be populated with pathological microflora, which will serve as the beginning of the process of its inflammation – coleitis.

What bacteria most commonly cause colpitis? They are:

  • streptococci,
  • staphylococcus,
  • E. coli,
  • mycoplasma,
  • Gardnerella,
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

Occurrence of colpitis can sometimes be associated with a viral infection. In most cases of viral colpitis, the causative agent is the herpes virus, less often the mucous membrane is affected by cytomegalovirus or papiloma virus.

Causes of coleitis

The decrease in the number of beneficial microflora of the vagina is associated with violations of favorable conditions for its existence. These violations can be caused by various factors:

  • poor circulation in the pelvic area,
  • hormonal changes,
  • lack of vitamins and trace elements in a woman’s body,
  • penetration of aggressive microorganisms,
  • allergic reactions,
  • vaginal surface injuries (during intercourse or improper introduction of gynecological instruments),
  • impaired blood supply to mucosal tissues,
  • massive bleeding (for example, after childbirth or abortion).

It is these factors that are decisive in the development of colpitis. In most cases, colpitis of the vagina is not contagious. As a rule, it occurs due to weakening of the immune system or hormonal disorders in the body of a woman. As a result, the number of Dederlein sticks in the vagina is reduced, and it is populated by pathogenic microflora, which is already present on its mucosa. It can be both bacteria and fungi of the genus Candida, causing a special kind of colpitis – thrush. This disease is so called because the vaginal discharge seen in this disease resembles coagulated milk.

During menstruation, the number of good bacteria can also decrease. However, these fluctuations are temporary and after the end of menstruation the number of bacteria should return to the normal range.

Factors favoring colpitis:

  • wrong diet;
  • woman’s inadequate personal hygiene;
  • taking certain drugs, particularly antibiotics;
  • excessive rinsing of the vaginal cavity;
  • use of intrauterine devices and spermicidal gels;
  • other gynecological diseases (eg myoma, endometritis);
  • lack of vitamin A, which favorably affects the state of the mucous membranes;
  • diseases of the thyroid and pancreas, adrenal glands;
  • reduced immunity, which makes the body more vulnerable to various pathogens;
  • long-term treatment with hormonal anti-inflammatory drugs;
  • hematopoietic system diseases.

If, with insufficient observance of hygiene rules by a woman, everything is more or less clear, then how to deal with the reverse situation when excessive hygiene care is a factor contributing to the emergence of the disease? Yes, it also happens. The fact is that frequent rinsing can also cause a decrease in the number of beneficial microflora in the vagina. This suggests that in all it is necessary to comply with the measure.

Taking antibacterial drugs, for example, during the course of treatment of respiratory diseases, can also cause vaginitis (colpitis). This is explained by the fact that many antibiotics affect not only the pathogenic microflora, but also the microorganisms that inhabit the mucous membrane of the vagina. As a result, the number of Dederleyn sticks is reduced. Subsequently, their numbers may not recover, and pathogens will take their place.

Kolpit in childhood

In girls who have not reached puberty, this disease can also occur. The reason is that the children’s body is more susceptible to various infections – measles, diphtheria, scarlet fever. The causative agents of these diseases are able to reach the genitals and cause their inflammation. In addition, before puberty, the vagina contains an insufficient amount of beneficial microflora. You should also take into account the fact that the mucous membrane of the vagina in childhood is quite thin. Often, girls inflammation of the vagina is combined with inflammation of the vulva. This disease is called vulvovaginitis.

Allergic Colpitis

This type of colpitis occurs due to the exposure of the vaginal mucosa to a specific allergen. This may be a component of ointment, suppositories, or condom material. In this case, the allergen triggers certain biochemical reactions in the tissues, which lead to edema and inflammation of the vaginal mucosa.

Infectious colpitis

The following types of sexually transmitted diseases may be accompanied by vaginitis:

  • ureaplasmosis,
  • gonorrhea,
  • genital herpes,
  • Chlamydia.

Colpitis caused by sexually transmitted pathogens are called specific. If vaginitis is caused by microorganisms that were already present on the mucous membrane of the vagina, it is called non-specific.

Candida colpitis

This disease is also called thrush. It is caused by pathogenic fungi of the genus Candida, so another of its name is candidiasis. It should be borne in mind that these fungi inhabit not only the mucous membrane of the vagina, but also in the rectum and oral cavity. Consequently, they can be transferred from there to the vagina after oral and anal sex. Especially often the cause of candidiasis becomes a course of antibiotic therapy. The fact is that the fungi are not sensitive to most antibiotics, so when using antibiotics, the number of different bacteria on the vaginal mucosa decreases, including Dederlein’s rods. As a result, fungi begin to multiply freely, without any competition.

Trichomonas vaginitis

Although usually vaginitis is not contagious, there are some exceptions. First of all, it refers to the Trichomonas colpitis, which is caused by special protozoa organisms – Trichomonas. As a rule, the causative agents are trichomonas vaginal, but they can also be Trichomonas of other species.

However, along with inflammation of the mucous membrane of the vagina, inflammation of the cervix and urethra can be observed.

Vaginitis in Chlamydia

Also, in some cases, inflammation of the vagina can also be caused by chlamydia, which are almost always sexually transmitted. With this type of disease, the infection can spread to other female reproductive organs and urinary organs, affecting the urethra, bladder or endometrium.

Symptoms

The main symptoms of the disease are abnormal vaginal discharge, itching or burning. Severe pain with vaginitis is rare. Discomfort in the genital area may increase during menstruation, urination, physical activity, during intercourse. With atrophic colpitis, a feeling of dryness can join the sensations of itching and burning.

Discharge can be of various types – purulent, frothy, bloody, exude an unpleasant odor. When trichomonas vaginitis observed frothy greenish discharge with a fetid odor. Selection with thrush look like a whitish mass, resembling curdled milk, have a predominantly sour smell, or may have no smell at all. When the atrophic form of colpitis is observed grayish discharge, having an unpleasant odor.

Abnormal discharge can occur at different times – from several days to several years (with chronic colpitis). Also, in some cases, there may be redness and swelling of the genital organs, hyperemia of the vaginal walls, their pain when viewed.

Increased temperature with vaginitis occurs infrequently. As a rule, this is a sign of purulent processes in the vagina. At the same time temperature seldom exceeds subfebrile values. Also, for many varieties of colpitis, frequent urination is characteristic.

Vaginitis during pregnancy

During pregnancy, there is a global change in the hormonal background of a woman. This is reflected in the condition of the vagina. As a result, the risk of colpitis increases many times. Meanwhile, the treatment of colpitis in women during this period is difficult – largely due to the fact that not all drugs can be used during pregnancy. This is especially true for the first trimester.

However, treatment of colpitis during pregnancy is necessary, since the disease can spread and affect the uterus. In addition, the causative agents of the disease can get into the amniotic fluid, cause infection of the embryo and lead to early termination of pregnancy.

Diagnostics

Various methods can be used to diagnose colpitis. But the main one is a vaginal smear. On its basis, bacteriological analysis is carried out, allowing to identify the causative agent and cytological examination, which allows to determine the nature of tissue damage (usually carried out with the atrophic version of the disease).

In addition, gynecological examination can be used with special mirrors. In that case, if the inflammation is so severe that it causes the patient pain, a preliminary anesthesia can be performed. If the usual gynecological examination is not enough, a colposcopy is performed – an examination of the vagina with the help of special optical devices – colposcopes.

Also required are general and biochemical blood and urine tests, blood test for hormones.

Some diseases of the female genital organs, such as an ovarian cyst, can cause changes in hormonal balance. Therefore, ultrasound is often prescribed for vaginitis (for examining the cavity of the ovaries and uterus). Other types of research include determining the acidity level (pH) of the vagina, rectal examination.

To determine a treatment strategy for a gynecologist, it is necessary to determine whether a woman suffers from any concomitant diseases, determine the limits of inflammation, the nature of structural changes in the mucous membrane.

To pass the test is not recommended to engage in self-treatment of the disease, as this may make it difficult to determine the type of pathogen.

Treatment

How to treat and how to treat the disease? The main methods of therapy are medication. They include antibacterial and antifungal drugs designed to kill bacteria and fungi that cause the disease. Both tablets and topical preparations can be used. They can be used in various dosage forms, but most commonly used are vaginal suppositories (suppositories), douching solutions. Tampons moistened in the drug solution can also be used.

For washing the vagina, chlorhexidine , weak potassium permanganate solution, decoctions of medicinal herbs with anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial activity – sage , chamomile, calendula.

In most cases, it is not recommended to douching for more than 3 days in a row in order not to cause serious damage to the vaginal microflora.

Now a variety of vaginal suppositories, treating colpit. The most popular suppositories used in vaginitis are Terzhinan, Vokadin, Pimafucin, Klion-D, Metronidazole, Genferon, Nitazol.

Diet for the treatment of colpitis is an auxiliary method. It is necessary to exclude from the diet products that can increase the alkaline reaction of the vaginal mucosa. Spicy dishes and alcohol have similar effects.

Also, anti-inflammatory drugs are often prescribed to relieve swelling and inflammation. At the time of treatment, it is desirable to abandon sexual relationships.

After successful treatment with antibiotics, measures are needed to restore the normal microflora of the vagina. Prebiotics are used for this purpose. To check the effectiveness of treatment during the course of therapy, periodic smear analysis may be performed. In women, smears are taken on day 3 after the end of menstruation, in girls and women over 55 – after completion of treatment.

Atrophic colpitis – what it is and how to treat it

This variant of vaginitis occurs mainly in the elderly after the onset of menopause. At this time, the level of hormones in a woman’s body decreases, resulting in a decrease in the number of lactobacilli on the vaginal mucosa. However, it cannot be said that this is only the age-related type of the disease. Often atrophic colpitis is observed in middle-aged women and even in young women. In this case, the reason may be taking certain hormonal drugs, or surgery to remove the uterus or ovaries.

Treatment is made with pills and suppositories containing estrogen. The composition of the suppositories usually includes estriol, and the composition of the tablets – estradiol. Also, suppositories may include lactobacilli, designed to restore normal vaginal flora.

Complications

Vaginitis is dangerous not by itself, but by the consequences to which it can lead. If you do not cure the disease in time, then pathogens can move to other parts of the reproductive system of the female body – the uterus, tubes and appendages. Therefore, it is necessary to have information about the symptoms of the disease and the methods of its treatment in women.

The easiest complications are menstrual irregularities and amenorrhea. But often there are diseases such as inflammation of the cervix, endometritis, inflammation and blockage of the fallopian tubes and appendages. And this, in turn, threatens a woman with infertility or the occurrence of such phenomena as ectopic pregnancy.

But even if this does not happen, acute colpitis can become chronic. Chronic colpitis is much more difficult to cure, especially for the trichomonas form of the disease.

Vaginitis can also cause another type of complication – the appearance of fistulas – cavities in the vagina leading into the rectal cavity, as well as abscesses of the vaginal tissues. These complications are usually treated surgically.

Prevention

Vaginitis is a very common gynecological disease. But does this mean that it cannot be avoided?

Of course, it is not. It is possible to avoid the disease, you only need to follow simple rules of personal hygiene. You should also regularly visit the gynecologist, because the time noticed vaginitis is easier to cure than running.

Indiscriminate sexual intercourse, unconventional sex should also be avoided (anal or oral sex and subsequent vaginal sex can be the cause of infection of the vagina with pathogens). Condoms are recommended for sexual intercourse.

Often, the cause of the disease becomes the incorrect use of toilet paper by women after an act of defecation. It is necessary to wipe the anus in the direction from the vagina to the back, and not vice versa, since otherwise potentially dangerous microflora may enter the vagina.

It goes without saying that personal hygiene rules are followed. The basic rule is regular rinsing of the vaginal cavity with warm boiled water

You should also make sure that the diet of a woman would be balanced, and all the vitamins necessary for health would be present in the diet. First of all, it refers to vitamin A, which favorably affects various mucous membranes of the body, including the mucous membrane of the vagina.

Vitamin A is found in large quantities in the following products:

  • beans
  • Tomatoes
  • spinach
  • carrot
  • gourds
  • fruit

Do not get involved in self-medication with antibiotics during acute respiratory diseases or other infections, regardless of their location – the gastrointestinal tract, urinary system, skin, etc. Infectious diseases in themselves contribute to a decrease in immunity, and antibiotics used during their treatment can destroy another protective barrier of the vagina, a useful microflora. It must be remembered that a course of antibiotic treatment should be prescribed by a doctor taking into account all possible risks and contraindications.

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