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Vaginitis

Signs and Symptoms

Any woman can get vaginitis or inflammation of the vagina. The normal environment of the vagina is acidic which helps to prevent overgrowth of organisms that can cause vaginitis. When disruption of the lining occurs due to extreme stress or antibiotic use, women may develop vaginitis.

There are different types of vaginitis. The most common are yeast vaginitis, a bacterial infection called bacterial vaginosis and vaginitis related to sexually transmitted diseases such as Trichimonas.

Signs and symptoms vary depending on what type of vaginitis you have but may include vaginal discharge, itching, burning, foul odor or general vaginal irritation.

Diagnosis

It is almost always possible to diagnose vaginitis in the office by doing simple tests that include checking the vaginal acidity or pH, mixing the discharge with a small amount of saline or potassium hydroxide and looking under the microscope for specific cell changes. Occasionally, vaginal cultures are taken but this usually isn't necessary.

Treatment

Treatment depends on the type of vaginitis. For uncomplicated yeast infections, over-the-counter antifungal creams can be used. In some situations, women may be given a prescription pill called Diflucan to treat a yeast infection. For bacterial vaginosis, either oral or vaginal forms of the medications Flagyl or Clinidamycin can be used. For trichimonas, a single dose of Flagyl is used. Other types of vaginal infections are treated based on specific findings on exam or on culture results.

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