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Vaginitis Fact Sheet

OTHER NAMES Vaginal infection, nonspecific vaginitis, Bacterial vaginosis
ORGANISM Variety of organisms including candida (yeast), trichomoniasis (trich), and Gardnerella vaginalis
TRANSMISSION Can be sexually transmitted, but you don't have to be sexually active to have some forms of vaginitis. For example yeast is normally present in the vagina, when it overgrows, it can cause vaginitis.
TYPICAL SYMPTOMS May vary or be absent. May include a slight grayish or yellow odorous vaginal discharge and a mild itching or burning sensation.
DIAGNOSIS Must see a physician to find a specific cause.
TREATMENT Curable with an oral medication and/or vaginal creams or suppositories. While many women believe they have contracted the infection from a male partner, no studies have shown that treatment of the male partner decreases recurrence rates. Routine treatment of the male partner is not recommended until better data is obtained.

Don't have sex (abstinence) - Vaginal, oral, and anal sex can pass the infection from one person to another.

Monogamy - If you do have sex, stay with one unifected partner who you are sure only has sex with you and has no other risks. Use condoms unless tests show that your partner does not have STDs.

Take Precautions - If you do not choose abstinence or monogomy, then limit the number of sex partners and use a latex condom during the entire sex act (vaginal, anal, and oral) every time. When used the right way, condoms can help you from getting vaginitis. Be sure to put the condom on before the penis touches the vagina, mouth, or anus.

Avoid Drug Use - Mind-altering drugs, including alcohol, reduce our ability to reason, which can lead to risky behavior and risky sex.

Education - Health and sex education with special emphasis on abstinence and the use of a latex condom during vaginal, anal, or oral sex.

Avoid douching - Douching can disrupt the natural balance of organisms in the vagina.

Remove wet bathing suits immediately. Use cotton underwear. Keep vaginal area clean, wipe from front to back after a bowel movement.

DANGER Recently, this condition has been associated with prematurity and other abnormal pregnancy outcomes.

DSHS Publication Number 13-11917

Last updated June 17, 2021