In This Section
- How do I get checked and treated for vaginitis?
- How do I prevent vaginitis?
- What is a yeast infection?
- What is bacterial vaginosis?
A nurse or doctor can tell if you have vaginitis, and help figure out why it happened. Vaginitis treatments vary depending on what’s causing the problem.
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- Do I have to go to the doctor if I have vaginitis?
- What are the treatments for vaginitis?
- How can I ease irritating symptoms of vaginitis?
- Where can I get checked and treated for vaginitis?
- How Yeast Infections Are Diagnosed
- First, a quick overview of your vagina
- Yeast Infections
- Bacterial Vaginosis (BV)
Think you may have a yeast infection or vaginitis?
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Do I have to go to the doctor if I have vaginitis?
If you have symptoms of vaginitis, it’s a good idea to see your nurse, doctor, or local Planned Parenthood health center. Vaginitis isn’t usually a major health problem, but if you don’t get it treated it can become serious.
There are many different causes of vaginitis, and STDs like gonorrhea and chlamydia can have symptoms that are really similar to vaginitis. Seeing a doctor is the best way to find out exactly what’s going on, so you can get the right treatment.
To see what’s causing your vaginitis, your doctor may do an exam, look at a sample of your vaginal discharge under a microscope, or do other tests, like a urine test.
If your doctor has diagnosed you with a vaginal yeast infections before and you’re having the same symptoms, you can try an over-the-counter yeast infection medicine. But if you’re not sure, see your doctor or go to a Planned Parenthood health center. And if you used an over-the-counter medicine but your symptoms don’t go away, see a doctor.
What are the treatments for vaginitis?
Vaginitis is usually easy to cure. The type of vaginitis treatment that’s best for you depends on:
what’s causing your vaginitis
how bad your symptoms are
whether you’re pregnant
If your vaginitis is caused by a yeast infection, bacterial vaginosis, or trich, your doctor may give you a prescription for creams, suppositories, vaginal tablets, or pills. You can also get medicated creams or suppositories for yeast infections (like Monistat) at the drugstore without a prescription. Trich is the only type of vaginitis that’s sexually transmitted. So if you have trich it’s very important for your sexual partners to get treated, too.
If your vaginitis is caused by an allergy or irritation, the symptoms will usually go away when you stop using whatever’s causing the problem. Sometimes you might need to use a cream to help clear up your vaginitis. In rare cases of really bad allergic reactions, you may need emergency medical help.
If your vaginitis is caused by low levels of estrogen, your doctor may give you a prescription for creams, pills, or vaginal rings that release estrogen into your body.
No matter what type of vaginitis treatment you need, make sure you:
Don’t use anybody else’s medicine. Even if your symptoms are similar, you may have a different infection or need a different kind of treatment.
Don’t use old medicine. It may not work anymore, and it could even make the infection worse.
Carefully follow your doctor’s instructions or the directions that come with your treatment.
Use ALL of your medicine. The infection can come back if you don’t take all your medicine, even if your symptoms stop and even if you have your period.
Go to a follow-up appointment with your doctor to make sure the treatment worked.
During your vaginitis treatment:
Don’t put anything in your vagina except medicine or tampons. Take a break from oral or vaginal sex until you feel better.
If you have your period, it’s okay to use tampons or menstrual cups, unless it’s the kind of medicine you put into your vagina. If that’s the case, use pads instead.
If you’re using gels or creams inside your vagina, you can use unscented pads or panty liners to help keep the medicine from leaking onto your clothes.
How can I ease irritating symptoms of vaginitis?
Even though vaginitis can be super itchy and irritating, try not to scratch. It can cause more irritation or cuts in your skin, which can spread germs and lead to more infection. There are over-the-counter vaginal creams that you can use on your vulva to help calm the irritation. Your doctor can also give you tips on relieving burning and itching.
Avoid sex until your infection or irritation goes away (especially if you have trich, because it’s a sexually transmitted infection that you and your partner can pass back and forth). Friction from sex and your partner’s body fluids can cause more irritation or make it harder to heal. And some medicines that you use in your vagina have oil in them, which can cause condoms to break.
Where can I get checked and treated for vaginitis?
You can get checked and treated for vaginitis at your local Planned Parenthood health center, community or reproductive health clinics, or your ob/gyn or family doctor.
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How Yeast Infections Are Diagnosed
Vaginal itching, redness, and discharge sound like sure signs of a yeast infection — a fungal infection that’s as common as it is annoying. As apparent as the infection may seem, however, you may face some risks if you diagnose or treat it yourself. These symptoms can also be a red flag for other, more serious health issues. The only way to know for sure is to see your gynecologist — especially if you’ve never been diagnosed with a yeast infection before.
Symptoms of a Yeast Infection
Vulvovaginal candidiasis, more commonly known as a yeast infection, develops when there’s an overgrowth of the Candida yeast normally found in the vagina. The infection can cause a number of uncomfortable symptoms, including:
- Itching in and around the vagina
- A burning sensation in the vaginal area
- Redness, soreness, or irritation in and around the vagina
- Vaginal discharge ranging from thin and watery to thick and curd-like
If you have a yeast infection, you might experience other warning signs such as painful urination, says Sarah Wagner, MD, an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Loyola University Health System in Maywood, Ill. “This is caused by urine making contact with an irritated vulva,” she says.
Some women may also experience redness and swelling, says Oluwatosin Jaiyeoba, MD, an obstetrician/gynecologist with the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio. “These symptoms can develop inside the vagina as well as externally,” she says.
Why It’s Important to See Your Doctor for a Yeast Infection
If you suspect you have a yeast infection, you should see your doctor to confirm a diagnosis and get treatment. Ignoring or delaying treatment for a yeast infection can make the condition more difficult to manage.
There are a number of yeast infection medications now available without a prescription. These antifungal treatments are available in creams, tablets, and suppositories that are inserted into the vagina. Depending on the type of medication you use, treatment can last from one to seven days.
The easy availability of over-the-counter treatments can tempt women who experience the symptoms associated with a yeast infection to self-diagnose and self-treat. That’s not necessarily a good idea, however — especially if you’ve never been officially diagnosed with a yeast infection before.
Some common symptoms of yeast infection could also be signs of another type of infection that requires antibiotics. For instance, yeast infections and urinary tract infections share common symptoms, such as a burning sensation when urinating, Dr. Jaiyeoba says. The signs of a yeast infection are also very similar to certain sexually transmitted infections, like chlamydia and gonorrhea, as well as conditions such as contact dermatitis and bacterial vaginosis.
You should be especially cautious about self-diagnosing a yeast infection if you’re pregnant. Talk to your doctor before using any form of treatment for a suspected yeast infection, particularly if you are in your first trimester.
Diagnosing Yeast Infections at the Doctor’s Office
A diagnosis of yeast infection begins with your gynecologist taking your medical history and asking about your symptoms. Your doctor can confirm a diagnosis by performing a pelvic exam. During the exam, a speculum is inserted in the vagina to allow the doctor to check for symptoms such as swelling or discharge.
Doctors also generally take a sample of discharge with a swab from within the vagina and examine it under a microscope in the office, Wagner says, so a diagnosis can be made right away.
Prescription Treatment for Yeast Infection
Most cases of mild to moderate yeast infection can be treated with an over-the-counter antifungal cream, ointment, tablet, or suppository. If you’re diagnosed with a yeast infection that doesn’t respond to an over-the-counter treatment, your doctor may prescribe a stronger topical or oral medication. Typically, a single dose of oral antifungal medication is sufficient to treat most yeast infections.
For women with recurring or persistent yeast infections, however, one dose may not be enough. Yeast infections are most commonly caused by a type of yeast called Candida albicans, which responds well to typical treatments. But they can also be caused by other types of Candida, which may require longer or more aggressive treatment. “Patients who have a complicated infection because they have a suppressed immune system or they are infected with a non-albicans yeast might need more than one dose,” Jaiyeoba says.
Some everyday vaginal itching is perfectly normal and may have nothing to do with a vaginal infection. That’s why it’s so important to determine the cause of the symptoms. There are different types of vaginal infections that could be the source of your itching, though each brings its own set of symptoms.
First, a quick overview of your vagina
You may be completely unaware, but your vagina is host to an entire ecosystem of living organisms – yeast and bacteria. When in balance, they live in perfect harmony causing you no distress. In fact, this happy little community helps protect you and keep you healthy. However, if the balance is disrupted by any number of things—sex, antibiotics, stress, even diet—one group can overrun the other and your vagina pays the price in the form of an infection.
One of the most common vaginal infections, yeast infections occur when there’s an overgrowth of yeast in your vagina. Yeast infection symptoms can be very uncomfortable, but are usually not serious if diagnosed and treated early on. It’s important to get a diagnosis of your vaginal infection from a doctor, to make sure the treatment is right for you, and to rule out a more serious infection. The main symptom of yeast infections is itchiness, though it’s not the only one.
Signs you may have a yeast infection:
- Intense vaginal itching.
- Burning, especially during urination.
- A white vaginal discharge that may look like cottage cheese, mostly odorless.
- Pain during sexual intercourse.
- Swelling and soreness in the vulva (the skin that surrounds your vagina).
Every time I’m on antibiotics, I get a yeast infection. What’s up with that?
A round of antibiotics can clear out all the good bacteria in your vagina, letting unfriendly bacteria and yeast take over. Taking an oral probiotic for vaginal health, like AZO Complete Feminine BalanceTM, helps colonize the good bacteria to help maintain your balance.*
Why did I get a yeast infection?
Repeated yeast infections can be triggered by other, less serious, illnesses or physical and mental stress, anything that may lessen your immunity. Vaginal contraceptives, menopause, damp or tight-fitting clothing and feminine hygiene products, such as sprays and deodorants, don’t necessarily cause yeast infections, but they can disrupt your vaginal balance, making your vagina all too hospitable to an overgrowth of yeast, and encouraging infection.1
Bacterial Vaginosis (BV)
Another product of an out-of-balance vaginal microbiome, bacterial vaginosis (BV) is the most common vaginal infection in women ages 15-44. In BV there is an overgrowth of certain bacteria causing an imbalance of the “good” and “harmful” bacteria normally found in a woman’s vagina. 1
Signs you may have bacterial vaginosis (BV):
- Thin white or gray vaginal discharge, odor, pain, itching or burning in the vagina.
- Strong fish-like odor, especially after sex.
- Burning when urinating and itching around the outside of the vagina or both.
What do I do until I can get to the doctor for vaginal infection treatment?
Yeast and other vaginal infections can only be diagnosed and treated by a professional. Different types of vaginal infections can bring on similar symptoms, but have distinct treatments. It’s important to schedule an appointment with your doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment, as lack of appropriate treatment can lead to serious complications. Once you have had a yeast or vaginal infection, you may be able to recognize future symptoms and begin to relieve them with AZO Yeast® Plus until you are able to see your doctor. AZO Yeast® Plus is the leading product that provides both yeast and vaginal infection symptom relief in one convenient pill.
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