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Vaginitis FAQs How do you treat vaginitis?


Updated April 29, 2014

How do you treat vaginitis?

The key to proper treatment of vaginitis is proper diagnosis. This is not always easy since the same symptoms can exist in different forms of vaginitis. You can greatly assist your health care practitioner by paying close attention to exactly which symptoms you have and when they occur, along with a description of the color, consistency, amount, and smell of any abnormal discharge. Do not douche before your office or clinic visit; it will make accurate testing difficult or impossible.

Because different types of vaginitis have different causes, the treatment needs to be specific to the type of vaginitis present. When a woman has had a yeast infection diagnosed by her doctor, she is usually treated with a prescription for a vaginal cream or suppositories. If the infection clears up for some period of time but then the exact same symptoms occur again, a woman can obtain, with her doctor or pharmacist's advice, a vaginal cream or suppository without a prescription that can completely treat the infection. The important thing to understand is that this medication may only cure the most common types of Candida associated with vaginal yeast infections and will not cure other yeast infections or any other type of vaginitis. If you are not absolutely sure, see your doctor. You may save the expense of buying the wrong medication and avoid delay in treating your type of vaginitis.

When obtaining these over-the-counter medicines, be sure to read all of the instructions completely before using the product. Be sure to use all of the medicine and don't stop just because your symptoms have gone away.

Be sure to see your health care practitioner if:

  • All of the symptoms do not go away completely.

  • The symptoms return immediately or shortly after you finish treatment.

  • You have any other serious medical problems such as diabetes.

  • You might be pregnant.

Other forms of infectious vaginitis are caused by organisms that need to be treated with oral medication and/or a vaginal cream prescribed by your doctor. Products available without a prescription will probably not be effective. As with all medicine, it is important to follow your doctor's instructions as well as the instructions that come with the medication. Do not stop taking the medicine when your symptoms go away. Do not be embarrassed to ask your doctor or health care practitioner questions.

Good questions to ask your doctor about your treatment include:

  • It is okay to douche while on this vaginal cream?

  • Should you abstain from sexual intercourse during treatment?

  • Should your sexual partner(s) be treated at the same time?

  • Will the medication for this vaginitis agree with your other medication(s)?

  • Should you continue the vaginal cream or suppositories during your period?

  • Do you need to be reexamined and if so, when?

"Noninfectious" vaginitis is treated by changing the probable cause. If you have recently changed your soap or laundry detergent or have added a fabric softener, you might consider stopping the new product to see if the symptoms remain. The same instruction would apply to a new vaginal spray, douche, sanitary napkin, or tampon. If the vaginitis is due to hormonal changes, estrogen may be prescribed to help reduce symptoms.

Reprinted from the National Institute for Child Health & Human Development

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