What is vaginitis?

Vaginitis is an inflammation of the vagina. Vaginitis may cause itching, burning, a bad odor, or a large amount of discharge. It is one of the most common reasons for visiting an obstetrician–gynecologist (ob-gyn). There are many possible causes of vaginitis, and the type of treatment depends on the cause.

Common types of vaginitis include

What can cause vaginitis?

The vagina contains many organisms, such as bacteria and yeast, that are important to its normal function. A change in the normal balance of either yeast or bacteria can result in vaginitis. This causes the lining of the vagina to become inflamed. Factors that can change the normal balance of the vagina include

How is vaginitis diagnosed?

To diagnose vaginitis, your ob-gyn should take a sample of the discharge from your vagina. Several tests may be done. Some test results may be available right away. For others, the sample must be sent to a lab, and results are ready in a few days.

To ensure the results of the tests are accurate, do not use any vaginal medications for at least 3 days before you see your ob-gyn. You also should not douche, have sex, or use spermicides before your visit.

How is vaginitis treated?

Treatment depends on the cause of the vaginitis. Treatment may be a pill, cream, or gel that is inserted into the vagina.

It is important to follow treatment directions exactly, even if the symptoms go away before you finish the medication. Even though the symptoms disappear, the infection could still be present. Stopping the treatment early may cause symptoms to return.

If symptoms do not go away after the treatment is finished, or if they come back, see your ob-gyn. A different treatment may be needed.

How can vaginitis be prevented?

There are a number of things you can do to reduce the risk of getting vaginitis:

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Yeast Infections

What is a yeast infection?

Yeast infection is also called candidiasis. It is one of the most common types of vaginitis.

What causes yeast infections?

Yeast infections are caused by a fungus called Candida. It normally is found in small numbers in the vagina. But when the balance of bacteria and yeast in the vagina is altered, the yeast may overgrow and cause symptoms.

What factors increase the risk of getting a yeast infection?

In many cases, the cause of a yeast infection is not known.

What are the symptoms of a yeast infection?

What treatments are available for vaginal yeast infection?

Should I use an over-the-counter medication to treat a yeast infection?

Bacterial Vaginosis

What is bacterial vaginosis (BV)?

What are the symptoms of BV?

How is BV treated?


What is trichomoniasis?

What are the symptoms of trichomoniasis?

How is trichomoniasis treated?

Atrophic Vaginitis

What is atrophic vaginitis?

What are the symptoms of atrophic vaginitis?

How is atrophic vaginitis treated?

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