Vaginal Infections Specialist
Maiden Lane Medical
Gynecologists located in New York, NY
Vaginal infections can cause painful symptoms. If left untreated, they can become serious.
The board-certified gynecologists at Maiden Lane Medical help patients from New York, NY, get the treatment they need, so they can relieve symptoms, avoid complications and feel better.
What Is A Vaginal Infection?
Vaginal infections also referred to as vaginitis, are various conditions that cause inflammation in your vagina or vulva. There are different types of vaginal infections, including bacterial, parasitic (Trichomoniasis), and yeast.
You can also develop a vaginal infection following exposure to an irritant such as soap, perfumes, vaginal contraceptives, or even tight clothing.
What Are The Signs Of A Vaginal Infection?
The most common signs of vaginitis include:
- Vaginal itching
- Abnormal discharge
- A burning sensation during urination
- Pain during intercourse
- Vaginal bleeding or spotting
The various types of infections cause different symptoms. For example, a bacterial infection usually causes a grey-ish white or yellow discharge with a fishy odor. Yeast infections, on the other hand, cause intense itching and a thick, cottage cheese-like discharge.
What’s The Difference Between A Yeast Infection And Vaginitis?
A yeast infection is a type of vaginitis. It’s caused by an overgrowth of candida albican, a kind of fungus. Candida albican is present in your vagina all the time. However, antibiotics, an impaired immune system, or oral contraceptives can trigger overgrowth leading to infection.
What Causes Vaginitis?
There is a complex balance maintained at the vagina of the skin and normal flora (non-infectious bacteria normally found at the vagina). The pH maintained at the vagina inhibits infection but can be disrupted by many factors causing negative symptoms.
The most common causes of vaginitis are:
- Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is caused by an unclear decrease in the vaginal bacteria Lactobacilli and increased concentrations of other bacteria usually present in the vagina. While BV is not considered a sexually transmitted infection (STI), sexual activity and douching may be risk factors for this imbalance.
- Candida vulvovaginitis (yeast) is not an STI but rather symptoms of vaginal and vulvar inflammation in the presence of an overgrowth of the Candida species.
- Trichomonas infection is a sexually transmitted infection caused by a parasite.
- STI such as Neisseria gonorrhea or Chlamydia trachomatis
Additional causes are not due to infection but may cause the same symptoms, including the following:
- Atrophic vaginitis is caused by decreased moisture and thinning at the vaginal skin due to reduced levels of estrogen with menopause or certain forms of birth control
- Retained foreign body, i.e., retained tampon
- Dermatitis in reaction to hygienic products, i.e., body wash, soap, detergent, feminine products, antibiotics
- Vaginal scars, lesions, growths, or fistulas
- Skin disorders of the vagina: lichen sclerosis, eczema, psoriasis, malignancy
- Vestibulodynia (pain during vaginal penetration 3-6 months in the absence of infection)
- Desquamative inflammatory disorder: rare skin disorder of skin sloughing without infection in perimenopausal women
How Did I Get A Vaginal Infection?
Many risk factors contribute to your risk of developing vaginitis. Some of the most common issues include:
- Hormonal changes, such as those associated with pregnancy, birth control pills, or menopause
- Sexual activity
- Having a sexually transmitted infection
- Medications, such as antibiotics and steroids
- Use of spermicides for birth control
- Uncontrolled diabetes
- Use of hygiene products such as bubble bath, vaginal spray, or vaginal deodorant
- Wearing damp or tightfitting clothing
- Using an intrauterine device (IUD) for birth control
Taking antibiotics can also affect your microbiome, including the microorganisms in your vagina. As a result, some women are prone to developing vaginal infections after taking these medications.
Is Vaginitis Contagious?
In most cases, vaginitis doesn’t spread from person to person. However, sexual activity can exacerbate your symptoms. If you have a vaginal infection, you should abstain from sexual intercourse until your infection clears.
Do I Have To See a Gynecologist For A Vaginal Infection?
Many conditions, including STDs, can cause symptoms similar to vaginitis. If you have any signs of a vaginal infection, you should see your doctor for testing to confirm the underlying issue and get appropriate treatment.
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How Is Vaginitis Diagnosed?
Diagnosis of most conditions is based on history and physical exam. Vaginal discharge is tested for pH levels and examined on a slide under the microscope. Your doctor may order vaginal cultures to rule out other STIs.
They may also recommend a vaginal skin biopsy to diagnose the problem if an infection has been ruled out and your symptoms are persistent.
How Is Vaginitis Treated?
The most common causes of vaginitis are treated with antifungal or antibiotic oral or vaginal medications. Candida is treated equally well with oral or vaginal treatments. Oral fluconazole is a convenient single-dose method, while vaginal treatments may offer fewer side effects.
Bacterial vaginosis is treated with metronidazole or clindamycin. They are administered in the form of oral tablets or a cream or gel vaginal suppository. Asymptomatic women do not require treatment of either Candida or BV.
Diagnosed Trichomoniasis always requires treatment, most commonly with a single dose of metronidazole or tinidazole. Partners must be treated for all diagnosed STIs and should refrain from sexual activity 1-2 weeks after treatment.
Recurrent vaginitis is not uncommon and may require special cultures to test for resistant strains of infection. In cases of ongoing recurrence, long-term suppressive therapy may be helpful in vaginitis prevention.
Behavioral and hygienic practices are also essential, including the use of gentle soaps, detergents, and lotions. Vaginal douching is discouraged. Women with female partners tend to have a higher incidence of vaginitis, and both partners should take precautions.
A specialist often treats non-infectious causes of vaginitis. Depending on the specific infection, your doctor may prescribe various topical medications such as anti-inflammatory, hormonal or analgesic agents.
Can Vaginitis Go Away On Its Own?
Your immune system can fight off some vaginal infections on its own. However, if your symptoms persist for more than a couple of days, you should make an appointment with the experts at Maiden Lane Medical for diagnosis and treatment.
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