Most women experience minor vaginal problems from time to time. These problems can be related to menstrual cycles, sex, infection, birth control methods, aging, medicines, or changes after pregnancy.
A change in your normal vaginal discharge may be the first sign of a vaginal problem. Changes in urination, such as having to urinate more frequently or having a burning feeling when you urinate, also may be a symptom of a vaginal problem.
Conditions that may cause a change in your normal vaginal discharge include:
The exact cause of pelvic pain may be hard to find. The severity of your pain and other symptoms you have may help determine what is causing the pain. For example: A condition, such as functional ovarian cysts, may cause pelvic pain and vaginal bleeding when you are not having your period.
If you think you may have symptoms of an STI:
The presence or excess growth of yeast cells, bacteria, or viruses can cause a vaginal infection. A vaginal infection may occur when there is a change in the normal balance of organisms in your vagina.
The three most common types of vaginal infections are:
Common symptoms of vaginal infection include:
If you are pregnant and have vaginal symptoms, talk with your doctor about your symptoms before considering any home treatment measures. Some home treatment measures may not be appropriate, depending on the cause of your vaginal infection. Conditions such as bacterial vaginosis can affect your pregnancy, so it is important to talk with your doctor and be treated appropriately.
Vaginal infections may increase the risk for pelvic infections, such as pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).
Other vaginal or vulvar problems may occur from the use of birth control methods, the use of medicines, or aging, or as a result of changes after pregnancy. These problems include:
A young girl with unusual vaginal symptoms should be evaluated by her doctor to determine the cause. Vaginitis in a young girl may be caused by:
A young girl with vaginal symptoms must also be evaluated for possible sexual abuse.
Many conditions can cause a rash, sore, blister, or lump in your vaginal area (vulva). One of the most common causes of a rash is genital skin irritation that may occur when soap is not rinsed off the skin or when tight-fitting or wet clothes rub against the skin. A sore, blister, or lump in your vaginal area may require a visit to your doctor.
Treatment of a vaginal problem depends on the cause of the problem, the severity of your symptoms, and your overall health condition.
Check your symptoms to decide if and when you should see a doctor.
Many things can affect how your body responds to a symptom and what kind of care you may need. These include:
You have answered all the questions. Based on your answers, you may be able to take care of this problem at home.
Urinary symptoms may include:
Symptoms of a vaginal infection may include:
Many prescription and nonprescription medicines can cause vaginal symptoms. A few examples are:
Pain in adults and older children
Pain in children under 3 years
It can be hard to tell how much pain a baby or toddler is in.
Based on your answers, you may need care right away. The problem is likely to get worse without medical care.
Based on your answers, you may need care soon. The problem probably will not get better without medical care.
Based on your answers, the problem may not improve without medical care.
A vaginal infection may clear up without treatment in 2 or 3 days.
If you have symptoms of a vaginal yeast infection and have been diagnosed and treated by your doctor for this condition in the past, you may want to try treating it at home using a nonprescription medicine, such as tioconazole (for example, Vagistat), clotrimazole (for example, Gyne-Lotrimin), or miconazole (for example, Monistat) to treat your symptoms.
If your symptoms do not improve with home treatment, contact your doctor. Vaginal symptoms that may be related to another type of vaginal infection or a cervical infection need to be evaluated.
Women who take the blood-thinning medicine warfarin (Coumadin) and use a nonprescription vaginal yeast-fighting medicine, such as Monistat, may have increased bruising and abnormal bleeding. Consult with your doctor before using a yeast-fighting medicine if you take warfarin.
Call your doctor if any of the following occur during home treatment:
If you practice good genital hygiene, you can also help prevent infection:
Take antibiotics when needed, but avoid unnecessary use of antibiotics. Taking antibiotics exposes you to the risks of allergic reactions and antibiotic side effects (such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and yeast infections). Also, antibiotics may kill good bacteria.
To prepare for your appointment, see the topic Making the Most of Your Appointment.
You can help your doctor diagnose and treat your condition by being prepared to answer the following questions:
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