What areGenital tract infection?

For sexually active adult women, lower genital tract infections are one of the most frequent reasons to seek medical care. In 1971 an estimated 10.8 million women-visits were made because of vaginitis and cervicitis.1 Few women have not had at least one vaginal infection while a substantial number of women have difficulty with persistent or frequently recurrent symptoms. Although the absolute prevalence and the relative proportion of infectious vaginitis vary, depending on the population, there are three major causes of vaginitis: bacterial vaginosis, formerly called nonspecific vaginitis (40–50%), candidiasis (20–30%), and trichomoniasis (20–30%).2 An additional 5% of women have vaginitis that has not been well characterized. The number of women who complain of a vaginal discharge caused by cervicitis has not been well studied,3 but cervicitis is grossly underdiagnosed, and the addition of cervicitis to these data would further serve to emphasize the importance of lower genital tract infection.

What Causes a Vaginal Infection?

Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is the most common cause of vaginitis. Bacterial vaginosis is caused by a change or imbalance in the types of the bacteria normally found in the vagina and causes an overgrowth of organisms such as Gardnerella vaginalis.

Risk factors include

pregnancy, intrauterine device (IUD) use, and frequent douching. It is associated with sexual activity, and possibly a new sexual partner or multiple sexual partners. Women who have never had sexual intercourse are rarely affected.

You do not get bacterial vaginosis from toilet seats, bedding, or swimming pools.

In the United States, as many as 25% of pregnant women have bacterial vaginosis. This varies by race and ethnicity from 6% in Asians and 9% in whites to 16% in Hispanics and 23% in African Americans.

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