VAGINITIS IN FEMALE ATHLETES
DESCRIPTIONVaginitis is irritation, infection, or inflammation of the vagina. This condition is slightly more common in female athletes than in the female population at large.
Appropriate health care includes visiting the doctor for the application of special medication to the vagina.
SIGNS & SYMPTOMSVaginal discharge, with or without an unpleasant odor.
Swollen, red, tender vaginal lips (labia) and surrounding skin.
Burning on urination, if urine touches inflamed tissue.
Change in vaginal color from pale-pink to red.
Genital itching and pain.
Discomfort during sexual intercourse.
CAUSESFor irritation: friction of clothing, especially tight clothing, that rubs against the skin or mucous membranes in the vaginal area. This occurs often in girls involved in sports such as cycling, gymnastics, or horseback riding.
For infection: germs multiplying and causing infection when the vagina's hormone and pH balance is disturbed. These germs may be yeast, fungi, parasites, or bacteria.
Factors that may disturb the vagina's pH balance include pregnancy; diabetes mellitus; use of oral contraceptives; high intake of simple carbohydrates; non-ventilating clothing or underwear made from man-made fibers, which increases darkness, moisture, and warmth in the vaginal area; hot weather; immunosuppression from drugs or disease, including antibiotic treatment.
PREVENTING COMPLICATIONS OR RECURRENCEInstructions for your daughter:
Take showers rather than tub baths.
Shower and dry off carefully after any vigorous physical activity.
Wear cotton panties or pantyhose with a cotton crotch. Avoid panties made from non-ventilating materials.
Don't sit around in wet clothing--especially a wet bathing suit.
When you take antibiotics, ask your doctor about eating yogurt, sour cream, or buttermilk containing active cultures, or taking acidophilus tablets.
After urination or bowel movements, cleanse by wiping or washing from front to back (vagina to anus), never back to front.
Lose weight if you are obese.
If you have diabetes, adhere strictly to your treatment program.
Avoid frequent douches.
MEDICAL TESTSYour own observation of symptoms; medical history and physical exam (including pelvic exam) by a doctor; laboratory studies, such as a Pap smear, and culture and microscopic exam of the vaginal discharge.
POSSIBLE COMPLICATIONSSpread of infection from the vagina or skin surrounding the genitals to other female organs (cervix, uterus, Fallopian tubes, ovaries).
PROBABLE OUTCOMEVaginal irritation usually disappears once the irritant is removed.
Vaginal infection is usually curable with 2 weeks of medication. Recurrence is common.
HOME CAREInstructions for your daughter:
Follow the instructions under PREVENTING COMPLICATIONS AND RECURRENCE.
Don't douche unless your doctor recommends it.
If urination burns, urinate through a tubular device, such as a toilet-paper roll or plastic cup with the end cut out, or urinate while bathing.
MEDICATIONAntibiotics, hormones, or topical cortisone cream or ointment.
Anti-fungal drugs, either in oral form (rare) or in vaginal creams or suppositories (usually). Keep creams or suppositories in the refrigerator.
Your doctor may prescribe:
ACTIVITYFor irritation, your daughter should modify her athletic activity if causes and risk factors have been eliminated and intolerable irritation persists.
For infection, your daughter should avoid overexertion, heat, and excessive sweating during treatment. She should delay sexual activity until symptoms cease.
DIET & FLUIDS
Your daughter should increase consumption of yogurt, acidophilus milk, buttermilk, or sour cream.
OK TO GO TO SCHOOL?Yes, when condition and sense of well-being will allow.
CALL YOUR DOCTOR IF
Your daughter has symptoms of vaginitis.
Symptoms worsen or persist longer than a week despite treatment.
Unusual vaginal bleeding or swelling develops.