Vaginitis is an inflammation of the vagina that can result in discharge, itching and pain. The cause is usually a change in the normal balance of vaginal bacteria or an infection. Vaginitis can also result from reduced estrogen levels after menopause.
The most common types of vaginitis are:
Treatment depends on the type of vaginitis you have.
Vaginitis symptoms may include:
The characteristics of your vaginal discharge may indicate the type of vaginitis you have. Examples include:
When to see a doctor
The cause depends on the type of vaginitis you have.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 3 out of 4 women will have a yeast infection at some time during their lives. Factors that increase your risk of yeast infections include:
Bubble baths, vaginal contraceptives, damp or tightfitting clothing, and feminine hygiene products, such as sprays and deodorants, don't cause yeast infections. However, these factors may increase your susceptibility to infection.
Generally, vaginal infections don't cause serious complications. In pregnant women, however, both bacterial vaginosis and trichomoniasis have been associated with premature deliveries and low birth weight babies. Women with trichomoniasis or bacterial vaginosis are also at a greater risk of acquiring HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.
Preparing for your appointment
What you can do
Also make a list of medications or supplements you're taking and any allergies you have. Write down questions to ask your doctor. Some basic questions include:
Don't hesitate to ask further questions if your doctor's explanations and instructions are unclear.
Questions your doctor may ask
Tests and diagnosis
To diagnose your condition, your doctor may review your history of vaginal infections or sexually transmitted infections and conduct a pelvic examination. During the exam, your doctor may take a sample of cervical or vaginal discharge for laboratory analysis. This sample can confirm what kind of vaginitis you have.
Treatments and drugs
A variety of organisms and conditions can cause vaginitis, so treatment targets the specific cause.
Lifestyle and home remedies
You'll need prescription medication to treat trichomoniasis, bacterial vaginosis and vaginal atrophy. If you know you have a yeast infection, you may go ahead with treatment on your own, taking these steps:
Good hygiene may prevent some types of vaginitis from recurring and may relieve some symptoms:
Other things that may help prevent vaginitis include:
Last Updated: 2011-02-05
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