What are the symptoms of vaginitis?
A woman's vagina makes discharge that's usually clear or slightly cloudy. In part, it's how the vagina cleans itself.
It doesn't really have a smell or make you itch. How much of it and exactly what it looks and feels like can vary during your menstrual cycle. At one point, you may have only a small amount of a very thin or watery discharge, and at another time of the month, it's thicker and there's more of it. That's all normal.
If you have vaginal discharge, which many women don't, the characteristics of the discharge might indicate the type of vaginitis you have. Examples include:
Bacterial vaginosis. You might develop a grayish-white, foul-smelling discharge. The odor, often described as a fishy odor, might be more obvious after sexual intercourse.
Yeast infection. The main symptom is itching, but you might have a white, thick discharge that resembles cottage cheese.
Trichomoniasis. An infection called trichomoniasis (trik-o-moe-NIE-uh-sis) can cause a greenish-yellow, sometimes frothy discharge.
What are the risk factors for vaginitis?
The risk factors for vaginitis depend upon the type of vaginitis.
Hormonal changes, such as those associated with pregnancy, birth control pills or menopause
Having a sexually transmitted infection
Medications, such as antibiotics and steroids
Use of spermicides for birth control
Use of hygiene products such as bubble bath, vaginal spray or vaginal deodorant
Wearing damp or tightfitting clothing
Using an intrauterine device (IUD) for birth control
How is vaginitis diagnosed?
The symptoms and signs of vaginitis strongly suggest the diagnosis.
To find out the cause of your symptoms, your health care provider may perform following tests.
Review your medical history. This includes your history of vaginal or sexually transmitted infections.
Perform a pelvic exam. During the pelvic exam, your doctor may use an instrument (speculum) to look inside your vagina for inflammation and abnormal discharge.
Collect a sample for lab testing. Your doctor might collect a sample of cervical or vaginal discharge for lab testing to confirm what kind of vaginitis you have.
Perform pH testing. Your doctor might test your vaginal pH by applying a pH test stick or pH paper to the wall of your vagina. An elevated pH can indicate either bacteria vaginosis or trichomoniasis. However, pH testing alone is not a reliable diagnostic test.