Vaginal Infections

Vaginitis is the term for a vaginal infection. It is important to know normal from abnormal vaginal discharge to determine if an infection is present. Normal discharge will contain skin cells, fluid, mucus and a healthy dose of bacteria, and is affected by a great many things including diet, hydration, skin conditions and medications. Release is controlled by your hormonal cycles prior to menopause.

I. Types of infection:

    a. Yeast

    b. Chronic Yeast

    c. Bacterial Vaginosis

II. If you have any of the following symptoms, Get It Checked:

    a. Itching of the vulva, vaginal opening, or labia

    b. Redness, burning, soreness, or

    c. An actual sore

    d. Swelling of the vulvar skin

    e. Foamy or greenish-yellow discharge, blood-tinged vaginal discharge

    f. Bad odor

    g. Pain with intercourse or urination

    h. Abdominal or pelvic pain

    i. Fever or any systemic symptoms

    j. Known exposure to an infection

    k. Symptoms after antibiotics: about a third of women will have infections after they have taken a round of antibiotics

III. Diagnosis is not best made by the appearance of discharge alone. Here are some things your physician might want to do to confirm or make an accurate diagnosis:

    a. Cultures: Be careful of the interpretation, up to half of all healthy women will have yeast in their vagina without having an actual infection!

    b. pH test

    c. Whift test

    d. Slide test

    e. Other testing, like ultrasounds and blood testing for infections, can be helpful in difficult cases.

Some common questions and concerns regarding these infections:

Q: What are the little red spots that I have in the vaginal area?

    -Most of those are broken capillaries that may come from chafing or rubbing. Check with your gyno if you are concerned, but they probably are not something serious.

Q: Should you self treat or get vaginal infections treated over the phone?

    -As a general rule, self diagnosis is convenient, but not particularly accurate. A menopausal woman should never get treated over the phone as we do not want to miss a cancer or a precancerous condition that may only be presenting as a discharge or discomfort.

Q: How do I wash the vaginal area? Is soap necessary?

    -It is not necessary to wash the vaginal area with soap too frequently. This can be a common source of vaginal irritation and discomfort.

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