What are the common causes of pus in the vagina?

Produced in response to an infection, vaginal pus can range in color from yellow or green to white and can have a foamy, mucous, or cottage cheese-like texture, sometimes with an unusual odor. Common causes of pus in the vagina include yeast infection, bacterial vaginosis, urinary tract infection, and sexually transmitted disease (STD). Typically known as vaginitis, vaginal discharge is also often accompanied by inflammation, itching, and pain.

Vaginal secretions are normally produced by the female reproductive organs, namely the cervix, vagina, or uterus. Microbes, the normal flora, are always present in the vagina in the form of yeast and bacteria; however, the problem arises when the growth and presence of normal flora is disrupted or unbalanced. Playing an important role, the pH determines the vaginal environment for the growth of microorganisms. Normal pH for the vagina ranges from 3.8 to 4.2, more on the acidic side. Vaginal creams and deodorants, medications, hormonal changes, and STDs are some examples of things that can alter the vaginal pH and cause pus in the vagina.

Affecting about a third of women in the US, 61 percent in Iran, and up to 50 percent in sub-Saharan Africa as of 2011, the most common cause of vaginitis is bacterial vaginosis, a condition typically caused by a microbe known as Gardnerella vaginalis . Characterized by a fishy, ​​itchy odor and gray pus in the vagina, the likelihood of developing bacterial vaginosis is thought to be increased by having multiple sexual partners, which can alter the vaginal environment and cause the condition. Other risk factors include douching and perfumed baths and bubble baths. Women with bacterial vaginosis, even when asymptomatic, are at increased risk of contracting human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), gonorrhea, and chlamydia. If a woman already has HIV, having bacterial vaginosis increases the chance of passing HIV to her sexual partners.

Urinary tract infection (UTI) refers to a medical condition in which bacteria, typically E. coli from the digestive tract, enter the urinary system through the urethra and travel down the rest of the tract to the bladder, ureters and the kidneys. Urinary tract infections in women are manifested by the feeling of having to urinate frequently, despite passing a small amount of urine, as well as pain in the abdomen and fullness of the bladder. People with kidney involvement will also usually have visible blood and pus in their urine, chills, and a fever. In addition to E. coli, yeast, gonorrhea, and chlamydia can also cause UTIs.

Several STDs are characterized by pus in the vagina, including chlamydia, gonorrhea, and trichomoniasis, the number one curable STD among young women. Caused by Trichomonas vaginalis , trichomoniasis is manifested by foamy, greenish-yellow pus and itching, although it can be asymptomatic in some people. A potential threat to permanently damage the female reproductive system, Chlamydia is a very common STD that can be transmitted through the anus, oral, and vaginal routes. Chlamydia symptoms include painful urination and vaginal discharge, although most do not experience any symptoms. In women, gonorrhea, another common STD, also tends to be asymptomatic, with those with symptoms experiencing discharge from the vagina, pain during intercourse, and bleeding between periods.

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