Vaginitis is inflammation of the vagina. It usually causes itching, burning, foul odor, or an increased amount of discharge. It can affect women of all ages and is very common. The vagina contains organisms like bacteria and yeast. If there is a change in the normal balance of these organisms, it can result in vaginitis.

  • Diagnosis
  • Types of Vaginitis
  • Prevention


To properly diagnose vaginitis, your physician will take a sample of your vaginal discharge. Several tests may be performed either in the office, or in labs. Do not use any vaginal medications for at least 3 days prior to your appointment in order to receive accurate test results. Also, avoid douching, spermicides, and sexual intercourse before your appointment.

Types of Vaginitis

Types of Vaginitis

  • Yeast Infection aka Candidiasis: Yeast infections result from an increased amount of yeast inside the vagina. Certain antibiotics and pregnancy can increase the risk for a yeast infection. Those with a compromised immune system are also at a higher risk. Oftentimes, the cause of a yeast infection is unknown. Common symptoms of a yeast infection include itching and burning outside the vagina. This may worsen during urination or sex. There may also be redness, swelling, and an increase or change in discharge. Yeast infections can be treated with medicated gel or cream or a pill. These can be prescribed by a doctor or bought over the counter.
  • Bacterial Vaginosis: Symptoms of bacterial vaginosis include increased discharge with a strong fishy odor. The discharge will have a dark or dull gray/green color and be thinner than normal. Itching is not common, but may occur. Oral antibiotics or antibiotic cream or gels inserted into the vagina can treat this infection. Sometimes bacterial vaginosis can reoccur, so repeated treatments might be necessary. Also, it is not necessary to treat sexual partners.
  • Trichomoniasis: Trichomoniasis is an STD caused by the parasite Trichomonas vaginalis. Women with trichomoniasis are at an increased risk for other STDs. Discharge may appear yellow, gray, or green and have a fishy odor. Burning, itching, irritation, redness, and swelling of the vulva are common symptoms. Pain during urination may occur. This infection can be treated with an oral antibiotic. Sexual partners must also be treated.
  • Atrophic Vaginitis: This is not caused by an infection, but can occur any time female hormones are low. This may happen during breastfeeding or after menopause. Symptoms include dryness, itching, burning, abnormal discharge, and pain during sex. This can be treated with estrogen applied inside the vagina as a cream, gel, or ring.


  • Avoid feminine hygiene sprays and scented tampons and pads.
  • Do not douche.
  • Use plain water to clean the vulva. Soap and detergent can upset the natural balance of organisms inside the vagina.
  • Clean diaphragms, cervical caps, and spermicide applicators after each use.
  • Always use condoms during sex.

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