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What is Desquamative Vaginitis?

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  • Written By: Laura M. Sands
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 07 September 2016
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Desquamative vaginitis is a particularly rare type of vaginitis characterized by a discharge, vaginal itching, burning and general vaginal irritation. Some women also experience an apparent thinning of vaginal tissue, as well as a graying of the skin in the affected area. In many women, this condition also causes painful intercourse possibly caused by a narrowing of the vaginal opening, which is another common symptom. Desquamative vaginitis can be difficult to diagnose, as its symptoms are closely related to that of other conditions, such as pelvic inflammatory disease or yeast infection. While the exact cause of desquamative vaginitis is not always easy to pinpoint, it is not a sexually transmitted disease or infection.

Also known as desquamative inflammatory vaginitis (DIV), some researchers believe this condition may be caused by a vitamin D deficiency. Others believe it may be caused by a malfunctioning immune system. Still, some medical researchers believe DIV is actually a related form of lichen planus, which is a fairly common dermatological condition usually found on other areas of the body.

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Desquamative vaginitis is sometimes associated with a hormonal imbalance, such as is common in women during menopause or who have already undergone menopause, as well as in women taking birth control pills. Women who have not undergone recent hormonal changes, however, may also be diagnosed with desquamative vaginitis, which leads doctors and other researchers to believe that hormones may not play a large role in this condition at all. Essentially, this particular strain of vaginitis can and does affect women of varying ages.

The discharge associated with DIV is not usually associated with a foul or unusual odor. In addition to a yellowish discharge, women with this condition are found to shed white blood cells, which become evident through laboratory testing. In some, desquamative vaginitis may also cause slight bleeding after intercourse or other vaginal irritation, which is likely caused by friction on top of the inflammation widely associated with this condition.

A diagnosis of desquamative vaginitis usually occurs only after other possible causes for symptoms have been ruled out. As desquamative inflammatory vaginitis is a rare condition with origins that are not yet completely understood, treatment is often difficult and it is not unusual for doctors and patients to try multiple treatment strategies as symptoms continue to recur. Desquamative vaginitis is also sometimes misdiagnosed as pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) as the painful symptoms associated with PID, particularly during intercourse, are reportedly similar.

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anon993952
Post 10

I suffered with horrible chronic vaginal "infections" for years. Multiple GYNs just kept prescribing abx, and naturally, the symptoms kept returning. Finally, about five years ago, I found Dr. Andrew Goldstein Cntr for VulvoVaginal Disorders in DC (also a NYC office) who thankfully and correctly diagnosed DIV.

I have been on mntce doses (twice/week) of a compounded vaginal cream (Clinda, Estrogen, seroid) ever since and am finally beautifully, blissfully asymptomatic.

If you can get to him, I highly recommend him. There is not much worse than living with chronic "crotch on fire," and he is a superb diagnostician and brilliant clinician. He is also very pleasant, patient, gentle, and kind.

anon354173
Post 9

Raising Vitamin D levels cures the problem. Research DIV vitamin D deficiency. Research the article "Desquamative Inflammatory Vaginitis as

a Manifestation of Vitamin D Deficiency Associated With Crohn Disease: Case Reports and Review of the Literature," by Monica Peacocke.

anon302749
Post 8

I also have DSV. My symptoms started about a year ago and I saw a vulvar specialist about six months ago.

In the beginning, she said she was hopeful this would not be chronic, but of course after another six months, it is turning out to be chronic! I am on hydrocortisone suppositories which soothe my discomfort and help swelling. I have also found that Pramosone topical cream helps my symptoms significantly, but only with continuous use.

I am glad to find others to talk to who share this condition. If anyone has any more suggestions for treatment, let me know! I am also worried how this will affect my sex life. I have avoided dating because of it. Anyone have any advice?

anon299122
Post 7

I am 23 and have had this since I was 19. Of course my most recent Dr. only just diagnosed it as DIV this summer. I have tried the boric acid treatment when symptoms occur after my period or after I have sex, and while it usually clears it up it takes anywhere from three days to a week.

I just tried a month long treatment of a cream and my fiance and I had sex last night and I already think the symptoms are coming back. I know sex isn't the staple of a happy marriage, but I hate that our sex life is already basically ruined and we don't even have kids yet!

If anyone finds any more

helpful info on this please share. I am trying to lead a healthier lifestyle as well to see if that helps but I am not one for "drastic" change such as cutting out all unhealthy foods.

I know I should be thankful this isn't a life threatening disease or anything, but it does have a significant impact on my life and it is very frustrating.

anon297866
Post 6

I went through something very similar to the symptoms of DIV after halting birth control pills, which I took for over a decade continuously. I did many rounds of anti-fungal and antibiotic treatment to no avail.

Ultimately, the magic bullet ended up being boric acid. It balanced out my vaginal p.h. and helped alleviate most of my symptoms. In addition, cutting sugar out of my diet completely also made a large impact. Vitanica's Yeast Arrest is my favorite boric acid suppository, as it also contains naturally antimicrobial tea tree oil (also smells good.)

I don't struggle with symptoms every day anymore, but I still do get them before and after my period, as well as any time I've heavily sexually active with my partner.

anon289995
Post 5

I'm here with you ladies! I'm 25, been suffering with these symptoms for several years and just recently received this diagnosis. Unfortunately, the suppositories (Premarin estrogen cream and clindamycin) only lessen the symptoms. It keeps coming back. The way this was explained to me is that this is an autoimmune disease, not a vaginal infection. My thought is that by taking tons of vitamins and nutrients that my body might become stronger and could fight off whatever is triggering this response. Fingers crossed.

anon279052
Post 4

Same here I've struggled with this condition for two years and finally received a DIV diagnosis two months ago. I've completed one round of vaginal hydrocortisone cream with an antibiotic every other day for one month. The symptoms cleared for five days upon completion and then returned. I was very disheartened.

My OB referred me to a specialist for a second opinion. I am 38 years old and underwent fertility treatments, which can induce perimenopause as possible reason why.

burcidi
Post 3

@fify-- There isn't a cure for DIV because we don't really know why it happens yet. But researchers believe that a change in the immune system causes the shedding of white blood cells in the vagina which leads to DIV. Since DIV is a whole different kind of problem, the regular treatments for vaginosis will not work too well.

Most women with DIV are put on hydrocortisone cream for life. Initially I was on hydrocortisone and for a short time, antibiotics too. But I've been only on hydrocortisone and estrogen suppositories for the past several months. It's actually working pretty well, much better than my previous treatments. You should speak to your doctor about getting this treatment if what you're on right now doesn't work.

fify
Post 2

@simrin-- I was just diagnosed with DIV too and I'm being treated with antibiotics and hydrocortisone cream. It's too early to know if they're working or not yet.

I'm really sorry to hear about your situation. I'm also kind of confused about this condition. Isn't there anyone who was able to cure their DIV completely? Will I be living with this condition forever?

My doctor did not go into details and she certainly didn't give me the impression that this is very serious nor that I would be stuck with it forever. I know it's different and a bit more complicated than other kinds bacterial vaginosis, but I really wasn't expecting this. I just hope I respond to the antibiotics.

SteamLouis
Post 1

I have had DIV for the past six months. It's a really horrible condition. I have basically all of the symptoms listed in the article and my doctor has been unable to treat it.

I was also misdiagnosed with PID but when I didn't respond to the PID treatment, my doctor had some more tests done and concluded that I have DIV instead. I had never heard of this condition before and I'm frustrated with the fact that doctors still have no idea what causes it.

I haven't had hormonal imbalances and I'm 40 years old. I can't figure out how it can come about so suddenly. The only desquamative vaginosis treatment I've slightly responded to is topical corticosteroids but it's dangerous to take those for long periods of time. So here I am, six months later, at square one.

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