Vaginosis or vaginitis?

There are some confusing terms floating around. What is the difference between vaginitis and vaginosis? 

Anything with ‘itis’ at the end of it always refers to inflammation, whereas ‘osis’ means an abnormality of an organ, and refers to the name of the ‘disease’.

Think of tonsillitis, conjunctivitis, and hepatitis; versus scoliosis, multiple sclerosis and liver sclerosis.

Understanding vaginitis…

Vaginitis is a set of signs and symptoms: vaginal discharge that has white blood cells in it (this shows your body’s immune system is working overtime for some reason), some pain during sex or otherwise, itching or general irritation.

Vaginitis is usually caused by an infection but other influences such as allergies can be at work, for example in histamine intolerance. This is where ‘don’t wear tight undies, don’t use perfumed toilet paper, etc.’ all come into play.

If you are sensitive, you can end up with vaginitis pretty easily, but in most cases, it is caused by an infection of some kind. Vaginitis is characterised by symptoms that involve your vaginal or vulvar cells being unhappy – itch, pain, burning, soreness, redness, heat.

…and how it differs from vaginosis

Vaginosis on the other hand does not have the pain, itching or inflammation, so if you have these symptoms, you do not necessarily have vaginosis, but something else.

You can have both at once. Bacterial vaginosis is an example of a non-inflammation-based bacterial imbalance of the vagina.

Vaginosis can be characterised by many tell-tale signs, but at its core, is not inflamed, so will not itch, burn, or hurt.  

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