Treatment of Vaginitis
‘Vaginitis’ is the most common gynecologic condition encountered in our office and is usually characterized by burning, itching and vaginal discharge. Often times, the outside of the vagina, the vulva, may be red and swollen as well. Depending on the type of vaginitis, vaginal discharge may range from white, lumpy and odorless to thin and grayish with a foul, fishy odor. Vaginitis is usually caused by an imbalance of bacteria resulting from such things as an infection, use of anitbiotics or changes in hormonal levels (such as menopause).
In order to diagnose vaginitis, a sample of your vaginal discharge will be collected during a pelvic exam to be viewed under a microscope or sent for laboratory analysis. Although some strains of vaginitis are easily identified, many of the different types of vaginitis have similar symptoms and can be difficult to identify. Additionally, the identification process can be complicated by the fact that two or more types of vaginitis may be present at the same time. Therefore, we use the latest in DNA analysis, when appropriate, to precisely identify the cause of your infection and recommend the proper treatment options. Many women often self-diagnose for yeast infections, but due to the 89% misdiagnosis rate, we highly encourage you to schedule an office visit at 215-465-3000 or 856-435-9090.
Below are five of the most common types of vaginitis, as well as the most effective treatment options for each.
- Yeast infections – Yeast infections occur when the level of Candida, a fungus that lives in the vagina in small amounts normally, becomes imbalanced and causes a cottage cheese-like discharge. Typical treatment options range from over-the-counter (OTC) creams or suppositories that are inserted into the vagina to prescription pills that are taken orally.
- Bacterial vaginosis – Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is caused by an overabundance of several different bacteria and is characterized by an increase in vaginal discharge that is thin with a strong, foul odor. Unlike yeast infections, BV does not respond to OTC medications and requires prescription medication.
- Trichomoniasis vaginitis – Trichomoniasis vaginitis is a sexually transmitted disease that is caused by a tiny organism called Trichomonas vaginalis, which leads to vaginal itching and a yellow-green discharge accompanied by a fishy odor. Antibiotics are the treatment of choice for this strain of vaginitis.
- Chlamydia vaginitis – Chlamydia is another one of the most common types of vaginitis, and it is also an STD. However, it is often not accompanied by any symptoms and, as a result, is difficult to diagnose. But once the infection is detected, it can be treated with oral antibiotics. Left untreated, fertility problems can result.
- Non-infectious vaginitis – When a woman experiences itching, burning, painful intercourse or other types of irritation in the vagina, and no virus or infections are detected, it is often the result of one of two things: either an allergic reaction to a hygiene product, or a hormonal change such as menopause. To treat allergic reactions, the exact product causing the irritation needs to be identified and usage stopped. Hormonal therapy utilizing either prescription or bioidentical hormone replacement therapy will, in most cases, significantly improve non-infectious vaginitis due to hormonal changes.