What is vaginitis?
Vaginitis is a term for any infection or inflammation of the vagina.
What are the symptoms of vaginitis?
In general, vaginitis may cause itching, irritation, or abnormal vaginal discharge.
There are a several different kinds of vaginitis, each with their own causes and symptoms:
What are the treatments for vaginitis?
The key to treating vaginitis is knowing which kind you have. The treatment must be specific to the type of vaginitis present.
- Yeast infections are usually treated with an anti-yeast cream or suppository placed inside the vagina. A health care provider can write a prescription for most yeast infection treatments.
Although you can also buy medicine to treat yeast infections over-the-counter, it is a good idea to see a health care provider the first time you have symptoms of a yeast infection. Because this medicine will not cure other types of vaginitis, it is important to be sure you actually have a yeast infection before using these treatments.
- Bacterial vaginosis is treated with an antibiotic that gets rid of the "bad" bacteria and leaves the "good" bacteria. There is no over-the-counter treatment for bacterial vaginosis, so it is important to see your health care provider for a prescription.
- Sexually transmitted forms of vaginitis need to be treated by a health care provider right away. It is important to avoid sexual contact until you have been treated to prevent spreading the infection. A woman's sexual partner(s) will need treatment as well.
Trichomoniasis and Chlamydia are both treated by antibiotics. Neither genital herpes nor HPV can be cured, but both can be controlled with the help of your health care provider and medications.
- Non-infectious vaginitis can be treated by stopping the use of the product that caused the allergic reaction or irritation. Your health care provider may also be able to provide medicated cream to help reduce the symptoms until the reaction goes away.
It is important to remember that each type of vaginitis has a different treatment. Therefore it is very important to see a health care provider to be sure you are using the right treatment for your condition. Also, some kinds of vaginitis have no symptoms so it is important to have regular gynecologic exams.
Can I prevent vaginitis?
There are some things you can do to lower your chances of getting vaginitis.
- If you often get yeast infections, you may want to avoid clothes that hold in heat and moisture, such as panty hose without a cotton lining, nylon panties, or tight jeans.
- Avoid douches and vaginal sprays because they can kill "good" bacteria or cause irritation.
Sexually transmitted forms can help protect against sexually transmitted forms of vaginitis.
This article was provided by National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.