Get exclusive member benefits & effect social change. Join Today
Vaginitis is the medical word used to describe a number of conditions that can cause infection or inflammation of the vagina. Vulvovaginitis is the term used to describe inflammation of both the vagina and the vulva, or the external genital organs.
Vaginal infections can have a number of causes. If you develop a vaginal infection, your doctor will diagnose, address and treat your infection based on its cause. Common causes of vaginal infections include:
In some instances, it may not be possible for your doctor to determine the cause of your vaginal infection. This condition is known as nonspecific vulvovaginitis. This condition can occur in women of any age. It is more common in young girls that have not entered into puberty.
Some vaginal infections may not produce any symptoms. If you develop symptoms, the most common are:
The symptoms of vaginal infections will also vary based on the cause of your infection. Examples include:
Vaginal infections are not life-threatening conditions, however you should make an appointment to see your doctor if:
If you experience vaginal irritation, suspect a yeast infection, and you have had a previous diagnosis of yeast infections, you may not need to see your doctor. Yeast infections can be treated at home with over-the-counter vaginal antifungal medications, but if you are not sure, it’s always wise to check in with your doctor first.
Your doctor will be able to diagnose a vaginal infection. Your doctor will ask you about your health history, including current number of sexual partners and past infections or sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
Your doctor may also perform a pelvic exam. During this exam, your doctor may collect a sample of vaginal discharge. This sample will be sent to a laboratory for analysis. This will confirm what is causing your infection.
Treatment for vaginal infections will depend on what is causing your infection. Examples of treatments include:
If your infection is caused by an irritant such as soap, your doctor will recommend changing your soap to reduce irritation.
If you develop a vaginal infection, treatment can be very effective for curing symptoms. Proper diagnosis of your infection is needed to ensure that the right treatment is prescribed.
Not all vaginal infections can be prevented. Using a condom during sexual intercourse will help prevent the spread of STIs and lower your risk of contracting one. Proper hygiene can also help prevent the development of some vaginal infections. When possible you should wear cotton underwear and pantyhose with a cotton crotch, to decrease your risk of vaginal inflammation and irritation that can result in some women, from less breathable fabrics.
Written by: Darla Burke
Published on: Jul 05, 2012
Medically reviewed on: Feb 25, 2016: Nicole Galan, RN
Enter your symptoms in our Symptom Checker to find out possible causes of your symptoms. Go.
Enter any list of prescription drugs and see how they interact with each other and with other substances. Go.
Enter its color and shape information, and this tool helps you identify it. Go.
Find information on drug interactions, side effects, and more. Go.
From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.
Members save 10% on the monthly service charge of qualified AT&T wireless plans.
Members pay $9.50 for Regal ePremiere Tickets purchased online.
Members earn points on select Walgreens-brand health and wellness products.
Join or renew today! Members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change.