If you’ve ever had a yeast infection, you know it isn’t fun. Between the itching and weird discharge, it’s not exactly a party in your pants. But it’s also possible you’ve been a part of the yeast infection club and didn’t even know it.
According to Jessica Shepherd, M.D., an assistant professor of clinical obstetrics and gynecology and director of Minimally Invasive Gynecology at The University of Illinois College of Medicine at Chicago, up to 20 percent of all yeast infections can have no symptoms.
“All yeast infections are not characterized by itching and discharge,” she explains. “Some are mild and do not cause the usual symptoms.”
Board-certified ob-gyn Pari Ghodsi, M.D., says “classic” yeast infections have a cottage cheese-like discharge, but the infection can also just cause redness, burning, and irritation. Some women, on the other hand, may just feel like something isn’t quite right down there, but won’t be able to pinpoint why. And, if your pain threshold is higher than the average person, or you’re just not paying that much attention to what’s happening down there (because #lifehappens), you can have a yeast infection and not know it.
So…how can you find out if you have a yeast infection if you don’t notice any symptoms? Shepherd says your doctor may pick up on it during your annual pelvic exam by spotting some unusual discharge on the speculum. Your doctor might also notice some redness, although Shepherd says it’s usually less obvious in yeast infections with no symptoms. A swab of the area will usually be taken and then sent away for testing to determine if you do, in fact, have a yeast infection.
If you have a yeast infection and don’t realize it, it’s actually not a huge deal. In fact, Ghodsi says it doesn’t necessarily need to be treated unless you have some kind of symptoms, have an underlying medical condition, or are pregnant (yeast infections can cause contractions).
While Shepherd says you’re at a greater risk of developing yeast infections if you’re on antibiotics, take bubble baths, or tend to wear damp or tight-fitting clothes, ghost yeast infections really aren’t something to worry about. Just a little spooky!
BV often accompanies an active sex life, but it’s not a sexually transmitted disease. Bacteria are a natural part of the vagina, but with BV, something upsets the normal balance. There is an overgrowth of “bad” bacteria, and “good” (protective) bacteria are overwhelmed or can’t keep up.
BV affects nearly 30% of women in their child-bearing years. But it can occur in women of any age.
Those who have multiple sex partners (or whose partners have multiple partners) and those who don’t have sex for a while and then resume an active sex life are more at risk, Dr. Goje says.
The odor that accompanies BV is often strongest after sex or during menstruation. But between half and three-quarters of women with BV don’t have any symptoms.
“Your doctor may diagnose BV after noticing a slight odor or discharge during a routine wellness visit,” Dr. Goje says.
- Should you treat it?
- It’s back. Now what?
- Inadequate hygiene
- A tampon that was left in for long
- Menstrual cycle
- Fishy vaginal odor: treatment
- When is it time to see a doctor?
- Frequently asked questions on fishy vaginal odor
- Common vaginal infections
- Diagnosis of common vaginal infections
- What is vaginitis?
- What causes vaginitis?
- What is candida or “yeast” infections?
- What are the symptoms of a yeast infection?
- Who is at risk for yeast infections?
- How is a yeast infection diagnosed?
- Treatment for yeast infection
- What is bacterial vaginosis?
- What are the symptoms of bacterial vaginosis?
- Treatment for bacterial vaginosis
- What is trichomoniasis?
- What are the symptoms of trichomoniasis?
- Treatment for trichomoniasis
- What is viral vaginitis?
- What is noninfectious vaginitis?
- What are the symptoms of noninfectious vaginitis?
- Treatment for noninfectious vaginitis
Should you treat it?
Your doctor can help you decide the best course of action after diagnosis. If treatment is necessary, your doctor likely will prescribe antibiotics either in pill form or a vaginal gel or ointment.
However, because antibiotics can cause stomach upset and other side effects, your doctor may recommend against treatment unless symptoms are bothersome.
In the meantime, you should keep the area clean but skip the perfumed soaps and douches, which can upset the pH balance of the vagina.
There is an exception: BV may increase the risk of preterm delivery. So in pregnant women, doctors typically recommend treating the infection even when it’s not causing symptoms, Dr. Goje says.
Dr. Goje notes that others may catch the infection from you. “You can pass BV on to your partner, but as of today the CDC does not recommend partner treatment,” she says.
It’s back. Now what?
Even with medication, BV is often recurrent.
“I tell my patients that 20 to 30% of women will come back in three months with BV, and 50% in 12 months,” Dr. Goje says
For women in a monogamous relationship (who may not use condoms regularly), she recommends using condoms for three or four months to break the cycle of sharing the bacteria.
She advises against using feminine hygiene products such as douches and scented creams or deodorants. They actually increase your risk of getting BV by messing with your good bacteria.
Taking probiotics and eating yogurt with “live and active cultures” may help restore the bacterial balance in the vagina, she says.
And, she adds, because BV has symptoms similar to other infections, it’s a good idea to see your doctor if you think you have any type of vaginal infection.
In some cases, an unpleasant vaginal odor may simply be the result of improper hygiene. If you have a fishy odor with no discharge or a fishy odor with no discharge and no itching, you may be able to solve the problem by improving your hygiene.
A healthy hygiene routine for your vagina includes:
- Wiping from front to back after peeing and pooping
- Urinating after intercourse
- Changing your underwear at least daily, more if you are sweating
- Using unscented laundry products to wash your underwear
- Washing the surfaces of your body with a gentle cleanser
You might be thinking that if you have a fishy vaginal odor that the best thing to do is to vigorously clean the area inside the vagina or mask the scent with a perfume. This is actually one of the worst things you can do, as exposure to chemicals will alter vaginal pH balance and can even worsen the odor and cause infections.
A tampon that was left in for long
When you are on your period, you may notice a foul, fishy-smelling odor if you leave your tampon in for too long. Change your tampons and pads regularly, according to the heaviness of your menstrual flow. Avoid using tampons with a higher-than-necessary absorption as this could cause dryness in your vagina.
If you have lost or forgotten a tampon inside of you, you may be at risk of toxic shock syndrome (TSS), though the condition is quite rare. (1 to 2:100,000 women).
If you can, safely remove the tampon as soon as possible. See your doctor only if you cannot remove the tampon yourself, or if you were wearing a tampon for a long period of time and have sudden high fever, vomiting or diarrhea and rashes on your hands and feet.
Some women experience a change in vaginal odor before their period, which is related to bacteria and acidity levels in the vagina at different times in their menstrual cycle.
When you are on your period, the blood (with an elevated pH) and uterine lining mix with the microflora in the vagina walls, which can subtly affect smell.
Women may also notice a slight fishy odor after their period, which is normal as long as it’s not a sign of a forgotten tampon!
If you are in menopause and have a fishy odor, the smell can be due to hormonal changes that can influence scent and also make the vagina feel dry.
Fishy vaginal odor: treatment
If you have a slight fishy odor and no discharge, you may be able to treat it with home remedies:
Use gentle, unscented cleansers
Avoid using scented soaps, bubble baths, and vaginal deodorants, which can actually aggravate symptoms by causing further imbalance in or the vaginal flora. Gently clean the vulva only with water or an unscented cleanser. Never use strong soap or try to clean inside the vagina.
These are just a few of many hygienic tips to improve vaginal odor.
Douching is a practice that should only be prescribed by a doctor if medically necessary. Douching may aggravate symptoms and limit the vagina’s ability to self-clean with vaginal discharge.
Probiotic supplements or those found in specialty foods like yogurts can help support the body’s production and balance of healthy bacteria.
If the smell persists or you have a fishy odor and discharge, home remedies may not be appropriate.
When is it time to see a doctor?
If you are experiencing persistent vaginal odor and you have tried improving your hygiene practices, it may be time to see a doctor.
You should always see a doctor if a fishy vaginal odor is accompanied by other unpleasant symptoms like itching, burning or bleeding.
Frequently asked questions on fishy vaginal odor
Do you still have some questions about vaginal odor? Here are some frequently asked questions that other women have had about a fishy vaginal odor.
Does chlamydia have a fishy odor?
Chlamydia in women is very common and can sometimes go undetected.
Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted disease that can sometimes cause vaginitis and/or bacterial vaginosis, which may result in a fishy odor.
Fishy odor after sex – what does it mean?
A fishy vaginal odor after unprotected sex could be normal if the smell is subtle or it goes away after bathing and has no accompanying symptoms like itching or burning. This is due to the mix of vaginal discharge and sperm and their related pH levels.
If the smell persists or is very strong, this could indicate bacterial vaginosis or a sexually transmitted disease.
If you engaged in anal sex, a fishy odor from your anus could indicate a sexually transmitted disease. Be sure to get screened for vaginal and anal sexually-transmitted diseases when you go for testing.
Fishy odor during pregnancy – reason to start worrying?
A fishy odor during pregnancy either in the urine or in vaginal discharge could indicate a possible infection like a urinary tract infection or bacterial vaginosis. If left untreated, the condition could cause preterm birth or a low birth weight for the baby.
What about a fishy odor postpartum? After childbirth, women can be at risk for developing postpartum infections, which may include symptoms like a fishy odor.
Be sure to speak to your doctor if you notice a fishy odor during or after your pregnancy.
Every healthy woman’s vagina has a unique and subtle smell, which is normally not noticeable to anyone but you. Your smell can also change throughout your menstrual cycle so be sure to track your daily symptoms using the Flo app.
If you start to notice a strong fishy odor with other symptoms like vaginal itching, burning, pain or bleeding, be sure to visit your doctor or gynecologist. Only they can perform the necessary lab screening to diagnose and treat the problem.
What are the different types of vaginal disease are there and there symptoms?
There are a few different kinds of infections or irritations you can get on your vulva or vagina. When the vulva or vagina gets irritated, it’s called vaginitis.
Symptoms of vaginitis may include itching and burning in your vulva or vagina, redness, vaginal discharge that is different than normal (strong odor, white or green color, very thick or foamy), pain during sex or masturbation, burning when you pee, and/or feeling like you have to pee often. Everyone’s body is different, so people don’t always have the same symptoms. And which symptoms you have often depend on what’s causing the problem.
Sometimes vaginitis is caused by a reaction or allergy to something that irritates your genitals (like perfumed soap or scented tampons). If this is the case, usually the symptoms will go away when you stop using whatever’s irritating you. If symptoms don’t go away or get worse, you should see a doctor or nurse to find out what’s going on.
Other times vaginitis happens when the environment inside your vagina gets thrown off balance. This can make the natural yeast or bacteria that live in healthy vaginas grow too much and cause yeast infections or bacterial vaginosis. Yeast infections usually cause thick, white discharge, and may be itchy and uncomfortable. Bacterial vaginosis can also be itchy or painful, and you may notice more discharge than normal with a strong, fishy smell. Yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis can be cured with medication, so make sure to see a nurse or doctor if you have any of these symptoms.
It’s also common for people with vulvas to get infections in their urethra (the tube that carries pee from your bladder out of your body). This is called a urinary tract infection, or UTI. UTIs happen when certain bacteria get into your urethra and cause an infection. The most common symptoms for UTIs are pain or burning when you pee, and feeling like you need to pee all the time. Just like with other bacterial or yeast infections, UTIs can usually be fixed pretty quick with some antibiotics from the doctor.
Finally, some infections are passed during sex. These are called sexually transmitted infections, commonly known as STDs. There are many STDs with different symptoms. But most of the time people with STDs don’t have any symptoms at all (or don’t really notice them), so they may not even know they have one. The only way to know for sure if you have an STD is to get tested. The best way to avoid STDs is to not have any oral, anal, or vaginal sex. If you do have sex, using condoms can reduce your chances of getting STDs. And getting tested regularly (at least once a year) will help you stay healthy.
Remember, you can’t diagnose a medical situation over the internet. If you have questions about symptoms you may be having, contact your local Planned Parenthood health center or go see your doctor as soon as possible.
-Kendall at Planned Parenthood
Tags: STDs, urinary tract infection, UTI, UTIs, vagina, vaginitis, vulva, yeast infection, yeast infections
Common vaginal infections
Diagnosis of common vaginal infections
Your doctor or nurse may be able to get a good idea of what’s wrong just by asking you about your symptoms. They may also ask to examine you. If so, they’ll first look at the outside of your vagina. They’ll then use an instrument called a speculum to gently open your vagina, allowing them to look and examine inside. They may take a sample of discharge or cells from your vagina using a small, round cotton bud called a swab. These samples may be tested or examined under a microscope in the clinic, and sent to a laboratory for testing. Your nurse or doctor may also ask to take a urine sample, which will be sent for testing.
There are different ways to test for a vaginal infection. You may be asked to provide a sample of urine. A doctor or nurse at the clinic or surgery may ask to look inside your vagina using a speculum. This is an instrument to gently open your vagina; it is also used for smear tests. They’ll use a small, round cotton bud to take a swab of a sample of discharge or cells from your vagina. These samples may be tested or examined under a microscope in the clinic, and also sent to a laboratory for testing.
Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is an infection caused by certain bacteria in your vagina growing more than usual. It’s the most common type of vaginal infection, although around half of women who get it don’t have any symptoms. If you do have symptoms, you’ll usually have a thin grey or white, fishy-smelling vaginal discharge. You won’t usually have any soreness, itching or irritation with this infection.
BV isn’t a sexually transmitted infection, but being sexually active – especially if you’ve had a recent change in partner – is thought to increase your risk. Other things that can trigger BV include:
- perfumed soaps, feminine hygiene sprays or vaginal douching
- having a copper intra-uterine system (IUS or coil)
BV usually clears up if you take antibiotics. These are usually tablets that you take by mouth, although they may come as a gel or cream that you apply to your vagina. If you have a male partner, they won’t need to be treated for BV.
It’s possible for the infection to go by itself, without treatment. But it can be associated with various complications in pregnancy. These include late miscarriage, premature birth and development of pelvic inflammatory disease after your pregnancy. So if you have symptoms, be sure to get them checked out.
Chlamydia is the most commonly reported bacterial sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the UK. It’s caused by a bacterium called Chlamydia trachomatis.
Lots of women have chlamydia without knowing it. Seven in 10 women and half of men with chlamydia don’t have any symptoms. If you do have symptoms, you may notice you have more vaginal discharge than normal, and you might have bleeding between your periods or after sex. You might get pain during sex or when you pass urine.
Chlamydia can be treated with antibiotics. Your doctor will give you a course of antibiotic tablets to take for a week or two, or a one-off dose. You’ll be advised to go to a sexual health clinic, if you haven’t done so already. It’s important that any of your current or recent partners are tested and treated if necessary. The sexual health clinic can help with contacting them.
Your doctor may offer to re-test you three to six months after you’ve finished your treatment to check that you haven’t been re-infected. You can also buy kits to test for chlamydia yourself, at home.
If you don’t get treatment for chlamydia, it can lead to a number of complications. These include pelvic inflammatory disease (which can lead to infertility) and problems in pregnancy including premature birth.
Read our topic page on chlamydia for more information.
Genital herpes is caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV), which is usually passed on through sexual contact. Not everyone has symptoms, but it can cause painful blisters around your genital area, and you may feel unwell with a headache and fever.
There’s no cure for herpes; once you’re infected, the virus remains in your body. But you won’t have symptoms all the time. They tend to go and then may flare up again if the virus is reactivated. Various things may trigger a flare-up, including illness, stress, smoking and drinking alcohol.
Your doctor may be able to prescribe antiviral tablets for you. Although they won’t get rid of the virus, they can help to lessen your symptoms and get rid of them quicker. They can also reduce the number of flare-ups you have, and reduce your risk of complications.
Your doctor may also suggest using a local anaesthetic ointment on the affected area, to help with any pain.
Genital warts are caused by human papilloma virus (HPV). You usually catch genital warts by having sexual contact with someone who has them. Genital warts are one of the most common sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in the UK, but rates are dropping now that girls are routinely offered vaccination against HPV.
Genital warts appear as small growths on or around your vulva, cervix, vagina or anus. They can be painful and itchy, and might bleed. It’s possible that your warts may go away on their own, after a few months. But you’ll often need treatment at a sexual health clinic to get rid of them. You might be offered creams or ointments, cryotherapy (a procedure to freeze off your warts), surgery or electrocautery, which uses a heated electrode. Treatments help to remove the warts, but they can’t get rid of the virus.
Read our topic page about genital warts for more information.
Gonorrhoea is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by a bacterium called Neisseria gonorrhoeae. You can get it if you have unprotected sex with an infected person.
Half of women who get gonorrhoea don’t have any symptoms. If you do have symptoms, they’ll usually appear within 10 days of getting infected. You may have more vaginal discharge than normal, and you might have pain around your lower abdomen. It might hurt when you pass urine, and you may get bleeding between your periods.
You’ll usually need to go to a sexual health clinic for treatment of gonorrhoea. Gonorrhoea is treated with antibiotics. This is usually with a single injection and single tablet to take by mouth. You’ll need to be tested again about a week after you finish your treatment to check the infection has gone completely. It’s important that any current or recent sexual partners are informed that they could have gonorrhoea. They will also need to be tested and treated if necessary. The sexual health clinic can help with contacting them.
Read our topic page on gonorrhoea for more information.
Vaginal thrush (vaginal candidiasis) is a fungal infection, usually caused by a yeast called Candida albicans. Up to half of women have this yeast growing harmlessly in their vagina. Certain factors can trigger the yeast to grow more than usual, which then leads to thrush.
If you have thrush, you may have itching, soreness and irritation around your vulva. You may have a thick, white vaginal discharge (a bit like cottage cheese). It may also be painful to have sex or pass urine
Common triggers for thrush include:
- taking some types of antibiotic
- being pregnant
- having diabetes that’s not well controlled
Using soaps, shower gels or ‘feminine hygiene’ products around your genital area, and wearing tight-fitting clothing may make you more likely to develop thrush. Any of these can also make your symptoms worse if you get thrush. Thrush isn’t a sexually transmitted infection, but it can be triggered by sex.
You can use antifungal creams or pessaries (which you put into your vagina) to get rid of thrush, or take antifungal tablets. You can get these from a pharmacist without a prescription. If you’re pregnant, see your GP before you take any medicines to treat thrush. If you have a male partner, they won’t need any treatment unless they have a rash or sore area on their penis.
See our topic page on vaginal thrush for more information.
Trichomoniasis is a sexually transmitted infection (STI), caused by a parasite called Trichomonas vaginalis. You get it through having unprotected sex with an infected person. It’s common to have other STIs at the same time.
Up to half of women with trichomoniasis don’t have any symptoms. If you do have symptoms, you’ll probably have a yellow or white, smelly and possibly frothy vaginal discharge. You may have some soreness and itching around your vulva and pain when you go for a wee.
You’ll usually need to take antibiotics to get rid of this infection and you’ll usually need to go to a sexual health clinic for treatment. Your doctor may prescribe a course of antibiotic tablets lasting five to seven days, or it may be a one-off larger dose. Your partner will also need to be treated, even if they don’t have symptoms of the infection. This is to stop you getting the infection again.
What is vaginitis?
Vaginitis refers to any inflammation or infection of the vagina. It’s common in women of all ages. One-third of women have at least one form of vaginitis at some time during their lives.
When the walls of the vagina become inflamed, because some irritant has disturbed the balance of the vaginal area, vaginitis can occur.
What causes vaginitis?
Bacteria, yeast, viruses, chemicals in creams or sprays, and even clothing can cause vaginitis. Sometimes, it occurs from organisms that are passed between sexual partners. Also, a number of different factors can affect the health of your vagina. These include your overall health, your personal hygiene, medicines, hormones (particularly estrogen), and the health of your sexual partner. Changes in any of these factors can trigger vaginitis.
These are the most common types of vaginitis:
Candida or “yeast” infection
Your healthcare provider will consider other causes of vaginal discharge such as gonorrhea and chlamydia. These organisms don’t infect the vagina directly. If left untreated, they can lead to serious conditions, such as pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). PID increases a woman’s risk of infertility, pelvic scarring, chronic pelvic pain, and ectopic pregnancy. Chlamydia is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases in the U.S., although it often goes undiagnosed.
What is candida or “yeast” infections?
Yeast infections, as they are commonly called, are caused by one of the many species of fungus known as candida. It normally lives in the vagina in small numbers. Candida can also be present in the mouth and digestive tract in both men and women.
Yeast is normally present and well-balanced in the vagina. Infection occurs when something upsets this normal balance. For example, taking an antibiotic to treat another infection may upset this balance. In this case, the antibiotic kills the bacteria that normally protects and balances the yeast in the vagina. In turn, the yeast overgrows, causing an infection. Other factors that can cause imbalance include a weak immune system, pregnancy, and diabetes.
What are the symptoms of a yeast infection?
The following are the most common symptoms of a candida infection:
A thick, white, cottage cheese-like vaginal discharge that is watery and usually odorless
Itching and redness of the vulva and vagina
Pain with urination or sex
The symptoms of a vaginal candida infection may look like other conditions or medical problems. Always consult your healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
Who is at risk for yeast infections?
Any woman can get a yeast infection. A woman may be at an increased risk if she:
Has had a recent course of antibiotics
Has diabetes that is not well-controlled
Is taking an immunosuppressant medicine
Is using high-estrogen contraceptives
Is undergoing corticosteroid therapy, which weakens the immune system
How is a yeast infection diagnosed?
Your healthcare provider will review your medical history and do a physical and pelvic exam. He or she may also examine the vaginal discharge with a microscope.
Treatment for yeast infection
Treatment for candida may include:
Antifungal vaginal creams and suppositories
Oral antifungal medicines
What is bacterial vaginosis?
Bacterial vaginosis is the most common type of vaginitis in women of reproductive age. This infection is caused by bacteria, not yeast. With a bacterial vaginosis infection, certain species of normal vaginal bacteria grow out of control and trigger inflammation.
What are the symptoms of bacterial vaginosis?
These are the most common symptoms for bacterial vaginosis:
A milky, thin discharge at times, or a heavy, gray or green discharge
“Fishy” odor (may become more noticeable during sex)
The symptoms of bacterial vaginosis may look like other conditions. Always see your healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
It is important to get prompt treatment for this condition if you are pregnant. Bacterial vaginosis can cause complications during pregnancy and, in some cases, has been linked to preterm delivery.
Treatment for bacterial vaginosis
Bacterial vaginosis is caused by bacteria; therefore, it is generally treated with antibiotics.
What is trichomoniasis?
Trichomoniasis, trichomonas, or “trich” as it is commonly called, is a sexually transmitted disease. It is caused by a one-celled parasite called Trichomonas vaginalis that passes between partners during sex. Since most men don’t get symptoms with trichomoniasis, the infection is often not diagnosed until the woman develops symptoms of vaginitis.
What are the symptoms of trichomoniasis?
The following are the most common symptoms of trichomoniasis:
A frothy, often musty-smelling, greenish-yellow discharge
Itching or burning in and around the vagina and vulva
Swelling or redness at the opening of the vagina
Light bleeding, especially after sex
Burning during urination
Discomfort in the lower abdomen
Pain during sex
Some women with trichomoniasis have no symptoms. The symptoms of trichomoniasis may look like other conditions or medical problems. Always see your healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
Treatment for trichomoniasis
Both partners must be treated for trichomoniasis to avoid reinfection. Treatment generally involves taking oral antibiotics. If a woman has more than one sexual partner, each partner (and any of their other partners) should also be treated.
It is especially important for pregnant women to get prompt treatment for trichomoniasis. This type of vaginitis can cause complications during pregnancy and, in some cases, has been linked to preterm delivery.
Viruses are a common cause of vaginitis, with most being spread through sexual contact. One type of virus that causes viral vaginitis is the herpes simplex virus (HSV, or simply herpes). The main symptom is pain in the genital area associated with lesions and sores. These sores are generally visible on the vulva, or vagina, but may be found inside the vagina during a pelvic exam. Often stress or emotional situations can be a factor in triggering an outbreak of herpes.
Another source of viral vaginitis is the human papillomavirus (HPV), a virus that is also transmitted through sexual contact. HPV is the main cause of cervical cancer in women. This virus also causes painful warts to grow on the vagina, rectum, vulva, or groin. However, visible warts are not always present, in which case, the virus is generally detected by a test for HPV done with a Pap test.
Two HPV vaccines are effective in preventing infection by the particular strains of HPV that cause most cervical cancers, but they do not treat existing HPV infection or genital warts. One of the vaccines also is effective against genital warts as well as some cancers of the vulva, vagina, and anus. Both vaccines are approved for use in females between the ages of 9 and 26. One of the two vaccines is available for boys and men, ages 9 through 26, and protects against most genital warts. The vaccines are given as a three-dose series.
What is noninfectious vaginitis?
Noninfectious vaginitis usually refers to vaginal irritation without an infection being present. Most often, this is caused by an allergic reaction to, or irritation from, vaginal sprays, douches, or spermicidal products. It may be also be caused by sensitivity to perfumed soaps, detergents, or fabric softeners.
Another form of noninfectious vaginitis, called atrophic vaginitis, usually results from a decrease in hormones because of menopause, surgical removal of the ovaries, radiation therapy, or even after childbirth–particularly in breastfeeding women. Lack of estrogen dries and thins the vaginal tissue, and may also cause spotting.
What are the symptoms of noninfectious vaginitis?
The following are the most common symptoms of noninfectious vaginitis:
Pelvic pain (particularly during sex)
The symptoms of noninfectious vaginitis may look like other conditions or medical problems. Always see your healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
Treatment for noninfectious vaginitis
Treatment for noninfectious vaginitis depends greatly on the cause. If the cause is a reaction to an irritant, the irritant should be avoided.