Although there is a considerable body of literature regarding the composition of the vaginal microflora, remarkably little is known of the microbiology of the vulva. A comprehensive understanding of vulvar microbial ecology is hindered by the anatomical reality that the vulva is likely not a single ecological niche, but rather a structure that includes many unique and diverse microbial habitats. From an ecological perspective, the vulva can be best thought of as a transitional zone between the arid desert of external skin surfaces and the tropical rainforest of the vagina. Thus, the microbial ecology of the vulva is not a single entity but a complex construction, the nature of which is likely to be revealed in interwoven yet distinctive parts, depending on: (i) the anatomical areas sampled, (ii) the methodology used to analyze the samples, and (iii) the ability to describe the evenness, composition, and richness of the microbial communities.
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The term vaginitis is one that is applied to any inflammation or infection of the vagina, and there are many different conditions that are categorized together under this ‘broad’ heading, including bacterial vaginosis, trichomoniasis and non-infectious vaginitis.