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Vaginal Infections

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The vagina normally has a balance of mostly "good" bacteria and fewer "harmful" bacteria. When the balance is disrupted, it could lead to infection; and if this happens, it should lead the women of Avalon Park and East Orlando, Florida to Family & Women’s Health in Avalon Park for treatment.

As a matter of fact, BV, or bacteria vaginosis is the most common reason women make an appointment with a gynecologist. With proper diagnosis, a solution can be found. Additionally, vaginitis is a term used to describe various conditions that cause infection or inflammation of the vagina.

Three vaginal infections are most common. Their causes are quite different, their symptoms similar, and treatment varies.

  • Bacterial vaginosis
  • Vaginal yeast infection
  • Trichomoniasis

Symptoms of a Vaginal Infection

Symptoms of a vaginal infection may not be noticeable at first. Vaginal discharge, itching, and burning are common symptoms of the different vaginal infections. Although the symptoms of these infections can be very similar, there are some differences to look for in the color and smell of the discharge.

You may think you have a yeast infection and treat yourself with over-the-counter medications, but it’s important to talk to your doctor to get an accurate diagnosis so you can begin an effective treatment.

Normally vaginal discharge is clear and odorless. If your vaginal discharge is white, green, or another color, has a foul smell, changes consistency, or is significantly increased or decreased in amount, you may be developing a form of vaginitis.

Symptoms of common types of vaginitis include:

  • Bacterial vaginosis (BV) can cause abnormal vaginal discharge with an unpleasant odor, sometimes described as “fishlike.” The discharge is usually white or grey and thin. You may also experience burning during urination or itching. Some women with BV have no symptoms at all.
  • Yeast infections or candidiasis cause thick, whitish-gray "cottage cheese" vaginal discharge. You may have intense itching, painful urination, and uncomfortable intercourse.
  • Trichomoniasis causes a frothy, yellow-green or grey vaginal discharge, burning with urination, itching, discomfort during intercourse, and a foul smell.

Causes and Risk Factors of Vaginal Infections

Vaginal infections are caused by different factors depending on the type. Some vaginal infections are transmitted through sexual contact. Some infections are associated with more serious diseases.

Bacterial Vaginosis

Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is the most common cause of vaginitis. BV is caused by a change in the bacteria normally found in the vagina when there is an increase in harmful bacteria. It’s not clear exactly what prompts this imbalance, but there are factors that increase your risk for bacterial vaginosis:

  • Pregnancy
  • Intrauterine device (IUD)
  • Frequent douching
  • Multiple sexual partners
  • Unprotected sex

Yeast Infections

Vaginal yeast infections are caused when candida albicans, a fungus normally present in your vagina, grows uncontrollably due to a disruption in the balance of healthy organisms. Possible causes of this imbalance include:

  • Antibiotics you take for bacterial infections such as strep throat, can destroy protective bacteria as well, allowing the candida to grow.
  • Diabetes
  • Hormonal changes such as those that occur during pregnancy, ovulation, or menopause
  • Excessive alcohol
  • Some birth control pills
  • Steroids used to treat other infections or conditions
  • Wearing tight or non-cotton underwear that can increase temperature, moisture, and irritation
  • Use of douches or perfumed feminine hygiene sprays
  • Vaginal tears or scratches

Trichomoniasis

Trichomoniasis is a sexually transmitted disease, sometimes referred to as “trick,” caused by a parasite. Most women will have signs or symptoms of trichomoniasis infection within five to 28 days of exposure to the parasite. Common symptoms include:

  • Greenish-yellow, frothy vaginal discharge with a strong odor
  • Painful urination
  • Vaginal itching and irritation
  • Discomfort during intercourse
  • Lower abdominal pain (rare)

Tests to Diagnose Vaginal Infections

Symptoms of vaginal infections should be shared with your doctor so you can start a treatment plan that will help. It’s important to have an honest conversation about your sexual history and current symptoms.

To help diagnose vaginal infections, your doctor will start with a complete medical history and physical exam.

Other tests include:

  • Blood tests
  • Urine samples
  • Cultures of vaginal tissue or discharge

Treatments for Vaginal Infections

It’s important to seek treatment for vaginal infections because, left untreated, they can lead to serious complications.

Bacterial vaginosis can lead to premature and low birth weight babies, pelvic inflammatory disease, and increased risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases.

Yeast infections can spread to other parts of your body including skin, mucous membranes, heart valves, and esophagus, and other areas and cause serious, life-threatening infections.

Vaginal infections caused by bacteria or parasites are often curable. Your doctor will develop a treatment plan depending on the source and severity of the infection. Treatment for vaginal infections also depends on how long you’ve had the infection and whether it is recurring. If you are pregnant, your doctor will take that into consideration as well.

Treatment options include:

  • Antibiotics (pills or shot)
  • Antifungal medication
  • Diet changes
  • Lifestyle changes
  • Vaginal suppositories (creams, lotions)

If you fear you have a vaginal infection, contact Family & Women’s Health in Avalon Park today to make an appointment. Call 407.306.0982 or visit our contact page.