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Vaginitis

Vaginitis can be an infection, inflammation, changes in vaginal flora, or a combination. Symptoms can include vaginal discharge, foul odor, vaginal itching, vaginal burning, painful intercourse, etc. Self-diagnosing and self-medication is a common practice. It is very important to notify your physician about your vaginal symptoms before self-medicating as treating yourself may worsen your symptoms.

Did you know…
The vagina is rich in lactic acid, making its environment acidic? The normal pH of the vagina in a premenopausal woman is 4.0 to 4.5. The acidic pH helps maintain the normal vaginal flora and inhibit the growth of disease-causing organisms. Disruption of the vaginal flora can alter the acidic pH and cause infections.

What are the most common forms of vaginitis?
The most common infections to cause symptoms of vaginitis are bacterial vaginosis (BV), vulvovaginal candidiasis (VVC), and trichomonas. These three disorders account for over 90% of all vaginal infections. Other common causes of vaginitis are vaginal atrophy in postmenopausal women, cervicitis, foreign bodies, antibiotics, vulvar hygiene products, intercourse, contraception, etc.

How is vaginitis diagnosed?
A thorough history focused on symptoms and personal behavior is required to optimize the physical exam. The exam is then tailored to identify inflammation, discharge, and foreign bodies, among other things. In-office diagnostic studies and microscopy are obtained to identify characteristic findings Suggestive of a diagnosis. Additional diagnostic tests, such as culture and/or nucleic acid amplification tests (NAAT) can also be used. The most important factor to optimize diagnosis is to see your physician instead of self-medicating.

Can vaginitis be a form of sexually transmitted disease (STD)?
Yes. The most common infections causing vaginitis are BV and VVC, and both are not STDs. But Trichomonas vaginalis is an STD and is also a common form of vaginitis. Less common forms of vaginitis are Chlamydia and Gonorrhea, which are also STDs. This is another reason why it is very important to seek your OBGYN to identify a possible STD if experiencing symptoms of vaginitis. Treatment of STDs can prevent future infertility, future adhesive disease, pelvic inflammatory disease, and other complications.