Overview of Vaginitis as a Symptom

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What is Vaginitis?

Vaginitis is the generic term for vaginal infection or vaginal inflammation. That means that vaginitis isn't a specific disease. Instead, vaginitis may be caused by a variety of infectious and non-infectious sources. That includes a number of STDs.

Vaginitis symptoms may include vaginal itching, vaginal discharge, and vaginal odor.

Vaginitis is a catch-all term, rather than a diagnosis. As such, a diagnosis of vaginitis will usually be followed up by further testing. It takes a test for doctors to determine the cause of vaginitis. Only then is it possible for them to figure out what would be the most appropriate treatment. There is no generic treatment for vaginitis symptoms, doctors have to know their cause.

What Are Some Non STD Causes of Vaginitis?

Yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis are two common causes of vaginitis. However, although these conditions are infections, they're not generally considered to be STDs. Instead, both yeast infections and BV are thought of as sexually associated infections. They occur more frequently in individuals who are having sex. They are not necessarily passed from one partner to another during sex.

What STDs Can Cause Vaginitis?

In addition to yeast infections and BV, a number of sexually transmitted diseases can cause vaginitis. These include trichomoniasis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia. However, it's important to note that a lack of vaginitis doesn't mean you don't have one of these conditions. Many people with gonorrhea and chlamydia have asymptomatic infections. That means that they don't have any symptoms.

Similarly, just because you don't have symptoms of an STD doesn't mean you don't need treatment. Left untreated, some asymptomatic STD infections can cause serious problems including pelvic inflammatory disease and infertility. That's one reason why doctors regularly screen young women for STDs instead of waiting for them to come in for testing.

Is Vaginitis Treatable?

Most common causes of vaginitis are treatable. However, the specific treatment is dependent on what is causing vaginitis symptoms. Proper diagnosis is critical for treatment to be effective. It's also important to know that some causes of vaginitis are harder to treat than others. Other causes may be easy to treat but also likely to come back. For example, many women have recurrent BV and yeast infections. Even when treatment for any given episode is effective, many women experience these infections repeatedly.

It's important to talk to your doctor about whether it's safe to have sex when being treated for vaginitis. If an infection hasn't been fully treated, there is the chance you could pass it to your partner and then become infected again. However, it depends on the condition. For example, evidence suggests that sexual activity during yeast infection treatment is relatively safe.

How is Vaginitis Diagnosed?

Vaginitis is usually diagnosed using a wet mount, urine testing, vaginal swab tests, or some combination of the above. Doctors may also take a sexual history to determine whether you are likely to have been exposed to an infection.

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