Vaginitis is the general term for any inflammation of the vagina that can result in discharge, itching and pain. The cause is usually a change in the normal balance of vaginal bacteria or an infection. The most common types of vaginitis include bacterial vaginosis; caused by overgrowth of the vagina’s normal bacteria, yeast infections usually caused by a fungus called Candida albicans and trichomoniasis; a sexually transmitted parasite.
Cervicitis is inflammation of the cervix, which can be due to irritation, infection or injury of cells that line the cervix. The irritated or infected cells may become red, swollen, and ooze mucus and pus. They may also bleed easily when touched. There are many possible causes of cervicitis, these include irritation from tampons or diaphragms, allergy to spermicides or latex rubber in condoms, injury from rough sex among many other causes. Inflammation can also be caused by infections that are sexually transmitted, such as Chlamydia, gonorrhea, trichomoniasis and herpes, among others.
Many women with cervicitis don’t have any symptoms. The condition may be discovered only after a routine exam or test. Some common symptoms can include grayish or pale yellow vaginal discharge, abnormal vaginal bleeding, pain during sex and pain in the pelvis or abdomen.
Any infection within the reproductive tract can cause long term problems if left untreated. This can include pelvic inflammatory disease, chronic pelvic pain and infertility in women.
If you have any symptoms of vaginitis or cervicitis or your doctor notices any sign of infection during a gynecological examination they may take swab samples from your vagina and cervix to send away for testing. These samples are tested to see if any abnormal bacteria is growing in your vagina and causing infection. If any bacteria are identified, it is important that the infection is treated promptly, usually with antibiotics, to prevent any complications.