Vaginitis is infection or
inflammation of the
vagina. It can cause itching and burning, a change in
vaginal discharge, and sometimes pain during sex.
Vaginitis may be caused by
bacteria, yeast, or other organisms. Bath products, douches, and spermicides
also can irritate the
vagina and cause itching and discomfort.
The three most common types of vaginitis and their causes are:
Another type of vaginitis is atrophic vaginitis. This is
an irritation of the vagina caused by thinning tissues and less moisture in the
vaginal walls. This often occurs with menopause as a result of the decrease in
the hormone estrogen. Surgery to remove the ovaries can have the same effect.
Symptoms of vaginitis may
Your doctor will check
your vagina for redness and swelling and will take a sample of vaginal
discharge. The sample can be tested in a lab to see what is causing the
If you are pregnant, talk with
your doctor if you have any symptoms. Some problems can affect your pregnancy,
so it is important to talk with your doctor and get the right treatment.
The American Academy of Family Physicians offers information on adult and child health conditions and healthy living. Its website has topics on medicines, doctor visits, physical and mental health issues, parenting, and more.
American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
(ACOG) is a nonprofit organization of professionals who provide health care for
women, including teens. The ACOG Resource Center publishes manuals and patient
education materials. The Web publications section of the site has patient
education pamphlets on many women's health topics, including reproductive
health, breast-feeding, violence, and quitting smoking.
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious
Diseases conducts research and provides consumer information on infectious and
The Planned Parenthood Federation of American provides
comprehensive reproductive health care and consumer information about family
planning, sexual health, and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
The Teen Talk Web site (www.plannedparenthood.org/teen-talk) has information for teens about dating, teen pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender identity, how teens can protect themselves against STDs, and more.
Other Works ConsultedAnderson MR, et al. (2004). Evaluation of vaginal
complaints. JAMA, 291(11): 1368–1379.Eckert LO, Lentz GM (2007). Infections of the lower
genital tract. In VL Katz et al., eds., Comprehensive Gynecology, 5th ed., pp. 569–606. Philadelphia: Mosby
Elsevier.Soper DE (2007). Genitourinary infections and sexually
transmitted diseases. In JS Berek, ed., Berek and Novak's Gynecology, 14th ed., pp. 541–559. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and
July 27, 2011
Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine & Deborah A. Penava, BA, MD, FRCSC, MPH - Obstetrics and Gynecology
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