What Every Woman Needs to Know About Vaginitis

Appointment for Pap Smear
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  • "Vaginitis" is a medical term that describes an infection or irritation of the vagina and/or vulva by yeast, bacteria, viruses, other organisms, or chemical irritants.
  • When present, symptoms of different types of vaginitis overlap which can make diagnosis difficult. In addition, more than one cause of vaginitis can be present at the same time in the same woman.
  • Good health habits are important in preventing vaginitis! Have a complete gynecologic exam, including a pap smear, at least every two years. If you have multiple sexual partners, you should request screening for sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Proper diagnosis by your doctor or health care practitioner is the key to proper treatment. Yeast, bacteria, viruses, and other organisms each require a specific type of therapy. Use of the wrong medication will not help and will only delay proper treatment.
  • Yeast does not cause all vaginitis.
  • The use of a nonprescription medication or other treatment may make the proper diagnosis more difficult if yeast is not the cause of the infection.
  • Some forms of vaginitis are sexually transmitted and can co-exist with other more serious sexually transmitted diseases.
  • The proper use of condoms can help prevent some forms of vaginitis.
  • Follow complete instructions in treating your vaginal infection. If symptoms do not clear completely or if they reoccur, see your doctor or health care practitioner for further instructions.

Reprinted from the National Institute for Child Health & Human Development

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