The muscles of your pelvic floor hold your bladder, uterus and rectum (the hole you poop through). Over time or due to vaginal delivery, this upside-down umbrella can weaken.

If the muscles of your pelvic floor are weak, they may receive too much pressure when you sneeze, cough or lift something heavy. This can cause the organs to slip out of place.


Vaginitis occurs when an infection in the vulva upsets the balance of bacteria and yeast that normally live there. This imbalance can be caused by a bacterial infection, a fungal infection or even contact dermatitis. These infections can lead to itching and discharge, which is usually a thin, milky white or gray liquid. They can also have a fishy or foul-smelling odor. Other symptoms include pain when you pee, burning during intercourse and a painful vulva or vulva lining that is sensitive to touch.

Bacterial vaginosis is the most common cause of vaginitis, and it occurs when healthy bacteria are replaced by unhealthy ones. This is a sexually transmitted infection and can spread from person to person through unprotected sex. Yeast infections are the second most common type of vaginitis. They are caused by a fungus called candida and can occur in both women and men.

Vaginitis can also be caused by an allergic reaction to products that come into contact with the vulva. These products may include perfumed soaps, feminine hygiene sprays, douches and spermicidal agents. The skin in the vulva can also become sensitive due to changes in hormones during pregnancy, breastfeeding or menopause.

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Bacterial vaginosis

Bacterial vaginosis happens when the levels of bacteria in your vagina go out of balance. The normal bacterial population, known as the vaginal flora, contains good bacteria (lactobacilli) that make the vagina slightly acidic and prevent harmful bacteria from growing in the area. BV occurs when the number of lactobacilli decreases and “bad” bacteria (anaerobes) grow more quickly, which disrupts the balance of the flora. BV can be caused by many things, including using tampons instead of menstrual pads, doing douching or having unprotected sex. It also can occur after childbirth or gynecological surgery.

Women with BV may have itching in the vagina and unusual discharge with a fishy smell. The discharge is often white or gray and thin. It is important to follow your healthcare provider’s instructions for taking antibiotics to cure BV, as stopping them early because your symptoms have gone away can increase your risk of getting the infection again.

BV doesn’t spread from person to person and isn’t an STD or STI, but it can be associated with pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which causes an infection of the uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries that impairs fertility. It can also increase your risk of a pregnancy loss or early delivery.

Genital herpes

Genital herpes is a virus that causes painful ulcers in the vulva and anal area. It is more common in women than men and can cause outbreaks. The sores look like cold sores or blisters and scab over over time. The virus can also cause a rash and flu-like symptoms. It can be spread by vaginal, oral or anal sex. It can also spread through a break in the skin in the vulva or penis. It can be spread even if the person doesn’t have any sores or a rash.

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The virus can stay in your body for life. It can reactivate at any time and cause an outbreak. During an outbreak, the sores will be more severe and last longer. Repeat episodes of herpes tend to be milder than the first outbreak.

A genital herpes infection can be prevented by using condoms during anal and oral sex. You can also use unscented pads or tampons and wash your vulva in warm water daily. A doctor can diagnose herpes by doing a polymerase chain reaction test on fluid from a blister. They can also recommend medicine to treat an outbreak.

Groin infections

Groin infections may cause a itchy, spreading rash that affects the skin around the groin and inner thighs. They can also lead to cellulitis, a bacterial infection that spreads through an open wound and can cause pain in the lower leg or buttocks, fever and chills, swollen lymph nodes, and groin swelling. Cellulitis in the groin can be caused by a number of things, including sex with a partner who has an open wound or skin infection.

Jock itch is a common, itchy rash that spreads to the skin in the folds of the groin and inner thighs. It’s caused by fungi, and it’s the same type of fungus that causes athlete’s foot (tinea pedis). It’s more likely to occur in warm weather and when wearing tight clothing, especially when moisture gets trapped between the skin folds.

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Your doctor can diagnose jock itch with a physical exam and by looking at the affected area of skin. You may also be asked to take a sample of skin cells for further testing. Treatment for jock itch includes antifungal drugs applied to the skin and sometimes taken by mouth. Keeping the groin dry and using powder to absorb moisture can help prevent jock itch from returning.

Anterior vaginal prolapse

Women’s pelvic muscles and ligaments are designed to support their uterus, bladder, urethra and rectum. When these muscles become weak, pelvic prolapse can occur. This condition causes organs to slip down into the vagina. Pelvic prolapse symptoms include pressure in the pelvis, pain during activity, leaking urine and bowel issues such as a herniated bladder or constipation.

These muscles and ligaments form a hammock that wraps around the opening of the pelvis (the vulva). This area is also called the birth canal. A woman’s labor and childbirth can stretch and weaken these muscles. Chronic straining, aging and the loss of estrogen during menopause can further weaken these muscles. This can cause the front wall of the pelvis to sink down into the vagina, resulting in a herniated or prolapsed bladder or the uterus.

Anterior prolapse can be treated with nonsurgical treatment. However, severe prolapse may require surgery to keep the organs in their proper locations. A medical professional will evaluate your symptoms and perform a pelvic exam to determine the severity of the prolapse.