Inflammation of the vulva (vulvitis) and vagina (vaginitis) is called vulvovaginitis. Because of the proximity of these two structures, inflammation of one usually precipitates inflammation of the other. Vulvovaginitis may occur at any age and affects most females at some time. Prognosis is good with treatment.
Common causes of vaginitis (with or without consequent vulvitis) include:
infection with Trichomonas vaginalis, a protozoan flagellate, usually transmitted through sexual intercourse
infection with Candida albicans (Monilia), a fungus that requires glucose for growth (Incidence rises during the secretory phase of the menstrual cycle. Such infection occurs twice as often in pregnant females as in nonpregnant females. It also commonly affects users of hormonal contraceptives, diabetics, and patients receiving systemic therapy with broad-spectrum antibiotics [incidence may reach 75%].)
infection with Gardnerella vaginitis, a gram-negative bacillus
venereal infection with Neisseria gonorrhoeae (gonorrhea), a gram-negative diplococcus
viral infection with venereal warts (condylomata acuminata) or herpes-virus Type II, usually transmitted by sexual intercourse
vaginal mucosa atrophy in meno-pausal women due to decreasing levels of estrogen, which predisposes to bacterial invasion.
Common causes of vulvitis include:
parasitic infection (Phthirus pubis [crab louse])
trauma (skin breakdown may lead to secondary infection)
poor personal hygiene
chemical irritations, or allergic reactions to hygiene sprays, douches, detergents, clothing, or toilet paper
vulval atrophy in menopausal women due to decreasing estrogen levels
retention of a foreign body, such as a tampon or diaphragm.