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Vaginal inflammation, also known as vaginitis, is considered relatively common among women, and can occur for a number of reasons. Bacterial, parasitic, and yeast infections may be among the most prevalent causes of this condition. Hormonal changes, changes in sexual activity levels, and even allergic reactions to the chemicals in perfumes and soaps can lead to inflammation of the genital area. While sexually transmitted diseases may be responsible for vaginal inflammation in a number of cases, other medical conditions, including diabetes, can contribute to vaginitis.
Infection with candidiasis yeast may be one of the most common causes of vaginal inflammation. Vaginal yeast infections usually occur when the candidiasis yeast that form part of the vagina's normal flora grow out of control, causing symptoms of itching and inflammation. Causes of vaginal yeast infection can include antibiotic use, increased sexual activity levels, or hormonal changes such as those which occur during pregnancy.
Bacterial vaginosis is another common cause of vaginal inflammation. Bacterial vaginosis often occurs when levels of normal bacteria inside the vagina become unbalanced. Treatment can include antibiotics, though sometimes this bacterial infection resolves itself.
Personal habits and behaviors can contribute to bacterial vaginosis and vaginal yeast infections. Wearing tight fitting clothing, or fabrics that aren't breathable, can increase the temperature and humidity of the vaginal environment, making imbalances in the normal flora more likely. Stress can also contribute to imbalances in normal vaginal flora, as can the hormonal changes that come with pregnancy or the use of hormonal birth control methods.
Allergic reactions and contact dermatitis caused by the chemicals in perfumes, soaps, and vaginal douches are another common cause of inflammation. Some women experience allergic reactions to the latex in condoms or diaphragms, or to the spermicides used with them. These women are often advised to avoid latex birth control products, as well as scented vaginal douches, sanitary products, and soaps.
Many sexually transmitted diseases can cause vaginal inflammation, although other causes may be more common. Diabetes can contribute to vaginitis, especially when blood sugar levels are poorly controlled. Disorders that suppress the immune system can also make women more susceptible to conditions that cause vaginal inflammation.