Signs and Symptoms of Vaginitis

Home » Signs and Symptoms of Vaginitis

Women deal with a lot of uncomfortable symptoms and discharges from the vagina that are often simply how their bodies work. However, it’s important to still pay attention to how the vagina and the skin surrounding it look and feel, as vaginitis and other conditions are highly common and can affect your lifestyle. These conditions are all treatable with simple solutions that work in as little as a day, so if you’ve got a bothersome symptom, don’t hesitate to reach out to Carnegie Women’s Health for a gynecologist appointment.

The Most Common Symptoms of Bacterial and Yeast Infections

As Dr. Stephanie Lam said in a recent interview with Dr. Nathan Fox, vaginal conditions present themselves in a number of different ways that will lead to one diagnosis or another when she examines patients. However, she mentioned the most popular ones are “itching, odor, irritation, and burning. Those are probably the top four symptoms that I would say that would lead a patient to call the office and say that they want to be seen.”

These symptoms most commonly lead to a diagnosis of either a bacterial or yeast infection, but can also be atrophic vaginitis in people going through menopause. In rare cases, people have a urine infection, but the other three account for the majority of common symptoms.

Treating Vaginitis and Vaginal Symptoms

For most healthy, young women who come into our offices for vaginal symptoms, treatment is usually simple to diagnose and get relief quickly. Treatment for yeast infections can come in the form of a pill that works after just one or two doses. There are also a vaginal suppository available for even faster relief, both over-the-counter formulas as well as prescriptions. Prescription suppositories contain steroids to help control inflammation and reduce symptoms while the rest of its antifungal effects take place.

These two treatments are commonly used for women of all symptoms and ages, although some populations and symptoms may require either additional or alternative help.

Menopausal Women

As Dr. Lam explained, menopause has an impact on the sensation of the vagina that can be uncomfortable. “And then you have issues [that make] women come to the doctor in menopause. Once estrogen starts to drop, your vulva and the vagina typically become dry and people can get burning and dryness and those are non-sexually transmitted issues and we can help you with that as well,” she said.

To help treat these symptoms, our team can use traditional creams and oral pills, but we also sometimes recommend estrogen treatments to help buoy the dropping levels and help keep the vagina healthy.

Dermatologic Symptoms

Not every itching, burning, or dry sensation is necessarily caused by an infection. Dermatological conditions can affect the vulva and vagina, as Dr. Lam explains. “But the lining of the vagina, those cells are very different than the cells on our arms or legs. And they’re much more subjective and sensitive to what’s going on.” This heightened sensitivity can lead to skin issues that we can treat or refer out to a dermatologist. “People have eczema or psoriasis. You can get those in the vulva area,” said Dr. Lam.

Once we rule out a diagnosis of yeast infection or STD, skin disorders of the vagina may be diagnosed with a biopsy to obtain a firm diagnosis. Most dermatologic conditions can be treated with steroids that come in an ointment or cream that you take for a much longer time than for infections. A typical treatment course is daily treatment for two weeks followed by twice-a-week application until the prescription is out.

Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Diagnosis for symptoms of trichomonas, which is an STD, typically comes when you’ve recently changed sexual partners or becoming sexually active. These conditions are typically treated with an oral pill, and we often recommend testing and treating any partners you may have had since becoming symptomatic.

Gynecologist in New York City

Although your vagina experiences a lot during your lifetime and having regular discomfort and other symptoms may seem regular, it’s important to come to a doctor in many cases to get checked out. Dr. Fox said it best during the Healthful Woman podcast: “It’s probably wise to see somebody to figure out what you have to make sure that if you’re going to get treated, you get the right treatment. Many of these can go away on their own but frequently won’t. It’ll just get worse and annoy you more. And the treatments are safe, pretty easy, and effective.”

If you’re experiencing painful or uncomfortable sensations, don’t hesitate to contact Carnegie Women’s Health to get an appointment as soon as possible so we can help you get the treatment you need and relief you deserve.

Dr. Stephanie Lam

Dr. Stephanie Lam

Dr. Stephanie Lam is a Board Certified Obstetrician/Gynecologist. She served for many years as full-time academic faculty at the Mount Sinai Beth Israel Medical Center in New York before joining the practice. She is a committed teacher, and during her academic tenure, Dr. Lam was the recipient of multiple medical school teaching awards.