Can vulvovaginitis be prevented?

Dr. Jeanne Morrison, PhD
Family Practitioner

Cases of vulvovaginitis are very common and can happen to women of any age. For this reason, it is safe to say that most women will contract some form of vulvovaginitis at least once in their lives. Because the causes of vaginal infections vary, it is often difficult or impossible to tell if something will cause irritation or infection. However, some causes of vaginal infection can be predicted or even prevented:

Bacterial: Bacterial infections caused by sexually transmitted diseases can be prevented by using a condom during all forms of sexual activity. An imbalance of bacteria present in your vagina can often be prevented by proper hygiene, including wiping from front to back on the toilet to prevent bacteria from transferring from the rectum to the vagina. Avoid female douching, which has been associated with infections of bacterial vulvovaginitis. Finally, it may be helpful in extreme cases to reduce your number of sexual partners or abstain from sexual activity.

Estrogen deficient: Although women cannot prevent the onset of menopause or the symptoms that come with it, they can prevent some severe symptoms of estrogen deficient vulvovaginitis. The most recommended prevention technique is frequent sexual activity, which can be aided by lubricants or other moisturizers. This increases blood flow to your vagina and helps your body's natural lubrication system stay active and healthy. Sexual activity also helps keep your vaginal tissue elastic and strong. Another way to prevent symptoms of atrophic vulvovaginitis is to avoid smoking, as that decreases your body's natural amount of estrogen and restricts blood flow.

Trichomonal: The most guaranteed way to prevent an infection of trichomonal vulvovaginitis is to abstain from any sexual activity. If you choose to have sex, there are a few ways to reduce your risk of catching trichomonal vulvovaginitis and other sexually transmitted diseases. The next best way to prevent STDs is to commit to a relationship in which both partners agree to remain exclusive to each other. It is helpful to know if you or your sexual partner has a history of sexually transmitted diseases, and to get tested to see if either of you is currently infected with anything. Condom use greatly reduces, but does not eliminate, your risk of catching or spreading STDs. Other contraceptive methods, such as birth control pills, female condoms and spermicide, do not protect against sexually transmitted diseases.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.