The gynaecologist described vaginitis as an inflammation of the vagina caused by low levels of estrogen.
She gave the advice in an interview with the News Agency of (NAN) on Wednesday in Abuja.
Ukoh described vaginitis as an inflammation of the vagina caused by low levels of estrogen as well overgrowth of normal bacteria in the vagina.
According to her, vaginitis has two types; namely Atrophic vaginitis and bacterial vaginitis.
Ukoh explained Atrophic (or senile vaginitis) as a situation when the endothelium (the lining of the vagina) estrogen levels decrease during the menopause, saying that this makes the lining more susceptible to irritation and inflammation.
Bacterial vaginitis is caused by overgrowth of bacteria in the vagina, she said, noting that women usually have less of normal vaginal bacteria called lactobacilli.
The expert attributed Trichomonas vaginalis, sometimes referred to as trich, as one of the causative factors of vaginitis, it is a sexually transmitted single-celled protozoan parasite.
This may infect other parts of the urogenital tract, including the urethra (where urine comes out of) as well as the vagina.
She also mentioned Candida albicans yeast that causes a fungal infection as another causative factor to the development of vaginitis.
“Infectious vaginitis makes up about 90 per cent of all cases in females who have reached puberty infectious vaginitis includes candidiasis, bacterial vaginosis and trichomoniasis.
“Less commonly, vaginitis may also be caused by gonorrhoea Chlamydia, mycoplasma, herpes, campylobacter, some parasites and poor hygiene.
“Young girls, before they reach puberty, can also develop vaginitis, but the cause may be different from those for older females, different types of bacteria are often involved.
“Improper hygiene in pre-pubescent girls can transfer bacteria and other irritants to the vaginal area from the anal region as well as rritation from a tampon can also cause vaginitis in some women,” she added.
Ukoh also noted that sometimes, vaginitis can be caused by an allergic reaction, stating that some women may be allergic to condoms, spermicides, certain soaps and perfumes, douches, topical medications, lubricants and even semen.
She therefore said that practicing of good hygiene such as keeping vaginal area clean and the use a mild soap without irritants or scents helps prevent vaginitis.
“Avoid douching and irritating agents, avoid wiping from your bottom to your vagina, always wipe from front to back.
“Wear loose clothing, practice safe sex as well as avoid usage of petroleum jelly during sexual intercourse also helps in preventing vaginitis,’’ she said.
However, Ukoh said that treatment depends on the cause of the condition which may include low-potency topical (applied to the skin) steroids, oral antibiotics, antifungal or antibacterial creams.
She also suggested the use of Cortisone cream if irritation symptoms are severe and antihistamine were sometimes given if the inflammation was caused by an allergic reaction.
The expert recommended topical estrogen cream if the vaginitis was caused by low estrogen levels.
She urged women who experience irritation on their genital areas, vaginal discharge, inflammation, redness, foul vaginal odour and pain during urination to seek urgent medical help.