Symptoms of a possible vaginal infection may include a bad odor with increased discharge, a burning sensation during urination, heavy yellowish or greenish discharge, white and clumpy discharge (i.e. like cottage cheese), or itching around the vaginal opening.
Infections are more common when a woman has a new partner or has more than one sexual partner. Using a condom in the beginning of a new relationship can often prevent infections. Depending on the type of infection, a partner may need treatment too. Many times, men have no symptoms even though an infection is present.
There are several infections that can be identified and treated during a visit to one of our offices.
MONILIA/VULVOVAGINAL CANDIDIASIS (VVC) or "Yeast Infection"
Cause: Yeast is a fungus (genus Candida) found everywhere, including the healthy vagina. Pregnant women and those with diabetes can be prone to yeast infections, as may women on antibiotics or the Birth Control Pill.
Symptoms: Itching, burning and a white, cottage cheese-like discharge may be present when there has been an overgrowth of the yeast.
Diagnosis: The presence of a vaginal "yeast infection" can be diagnosed by simple visulization of the vaginal area by an experienced clinician or by visualization of the vaginal discharge under a microscope.
Treatment: A "yeast infection" may be treated with a vaginal cream, vaginal suppository, or a prescription for an oral medication.
TRICHOMONAS VAGINALIS or "Trich"
Cause: A tiny protozoan parasite, which can infect the vagina, urethera, or rectum. Infection is almost always acquired through sexual transmission, even if the exposure happened months or even years in the past.
Symptoms: A persistant, frothy, thin, greenish discharge with itching and irritation of the vaginal canal. A bad odor and even pain during urination and/or intercourse may also be present. However, infection may be asymptomatic in up to 50% of women.
Diagnosis: The presence of the protozoan parasite in a swab of fluid from the vaginal area can be detected under a microscope in the office.
Treatment: The most common and effective form of treatment is with an antibiotic called Metronidazole or "Flagyl", which is only available by written prescription from a healthcare provider. In addition, it is important for sexual partners to be treated, even if they do not have active symptoms of the infection.
BACTERIAL VAGINOSIS or "BV"
Cause: Overgrowth of normal bacteria in the vagina. A tiny protozoan parasite, which can infect the vagina, urethera, or rectum. Infection is almost always acquired through sexual transmission. Since the infection can be asymptomatic in as many as 50% of women, the sexual activity that lead to acquiring the infection could have occurred months or even years in the past.
Symptoms: May include yellowish or green, persistent, foul smelling discharge, with vaginal itching and occasional pain with intercourse and/or urination. However, some women may expereince no symptoms despite being infected.
Diagnosis: Based upon both physical exam findings, patient symptoms, and visualization of vaginal disharge under the microscope.
Treatment: Usually and oral or vaginal antibiotic such as Metronidazole or Clindamycin prescribed by a member of the medical staff. An important part of treatment is to also to stop behaviors that can lead to overgrowth of vaginal bacteria, especially douching.
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