Female Genital Problems
Most women experience minor vaginal problems from time to time. These problems can be related to menstrual cycles, sex, infection, birth control methods, aging, medicines, or changes after pregnancy.
A change in your normal vaginal discharge may be the first sign of a vaginal problem. Changes in urination, such as having to urinate more frequently or having a burning feeling when you urinate, also may be a symptom of a vaginal problem.
Conditions that may cause a change in your Reference normal vaginal discharge include:
- Infections of the vagina, such as a Reference yeast infection Opens New Window, Reference bacterial vaginosis Opens New Window, Reference trichomoniasis Opens New Window, Reference human papillomavirus (HPV) Opens New Window, or Reference herpes Opens New Window.
- Infection of the cervix (Reference cervicitis Opens New Window).
- An object in the vagina, such as a forgotten tampon.
- Sexually transmitted infections (STIs), such as Reference chlamydia Opens New Window or Reference gonorrhea Opens New Window.
- Various sex practices, such as oral-to-vaginal and anal-to-vaginal contact.
- Vaginal medicines or douching.
The exact cause of pelvic pain may be hard to find. The severity of your pain and other symptoms you have may help determine what is causing the pain. For example: A condition, such as Reference functional ovarian cysts Opens New Window Reference Opens New Window, may cause pelvic pain and vaginal bleeding when you are not having your period.
If you think you may have symptoms of an STI:
- Do not have sexual contact or activity while waiting for your appointment. This will prevent the spread of the infection.
- Women should not douche. Douching changes the normal balance of bacteria in the vagina. Douching may flush an infection up into your uterus or fallopian tubes and cause Reference pelvic inflammatory infection (PID) Opens New Window.
The presence or excess growth of yeast cells, bacteria, or viruses can cause a vaginal infection. A vaginal infection may occur when there is a change in the normal balance of organisms in your vagina.
The three most common types of vaginal infections are:
- Candida vulvovaginitis (yeast infections).
- Bacterial infections (bacterial vaginosis).
- Parasitic infections (trichomoniasis).
Common symptoms of vaginal infection include:
- Increase or change in the vaginal discharge, including gray, green, or yellow discharge.
- Vaginal redness, swelling, itching, or pain.
- Vaginal odor.
- Reference Burning with urination Opens New Window.
- Pain or bleeding with sex.
If you are pregnant and have vaginal symptoms, talk with your doctor about your symptoms before considering any home treatment measures. Some home treatment measures may not be appropriate, depending on the cause of your vaginal infection. Conditions such as bacterial vaginosis can affect your pregnancy, so it is important to talk with your doctor and be treated appropriately.
Vaginal infections may increase the risk for pelvic infections, such as pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).
Vaginal or vulvar problems
Other vaginal or vulvar problems may occur from the use of birth control methods, the use of medicines, or aging, or as a result of changes after pregnancy. These problems include:
- Reference Vaginal prolapse, which may cause urination and bowel changes.
- Retained tampon, birth control device, or foreign object. See Reference how to remove an object from the vagina.
- Vulvar or vaginal injury, such as landing on a metal bar such as on a bike or playground equipment or from an object in the vagina.
- Vulvar pain (Reference vulvodynia).
- Reference Pudendal neuralgia, from pressure on the pudendal nerve in the genital area.
vaginitis. Examples of this include:
- An allergic reaction or irritation from chemicals, such as those found in vaginal sprays, douches, or spermicides.
- Hormone changes related to Reference menopause Opens New Window, such as Reference atrophic vaginitis Opens New Window.
- Use of Reference antibiotics and other medicines, which may change the balance of organisms in your vagina.
A young girl with unusual vaginal symptoms should be evaluated by her doctor to determine the cause. Vaginitis in a young girl may be caused by:
- A ball of toilet paper in her vagina.
- Reference Pinworms Opens New Window that have spread from the anus to the vagina.
- The spread of Reference bacteria Opens New Window from an upper respiratory infection of the ears (Reference otitis media Opens New Window) or throat (Reference tonsillitis Opens New Window) to the vagina by her hands.
A young girl with vaginal symptoms must also be evaluated for possible Reference sexual abuse.
Rashes, sores, blisters, or lumps in the vaginal or vulvar area
Many conditions can cause a Reference rash, sore, blister, or lump in your vaginal area (Reference vulva Opens New Window Reference Opens New Window). One of the most common causes of a rash is Reference genital skin irritation that may occur when soap is not rinsed off the skin or when tight-fitting or wet clothes rub against the skin. A sore, blister, or lump in your vaginal area may require a visit to your doctor.
Treatment of a vaginal problem depends on the cause of the problem, the severity of your symptoms, and your overall health condition.
Reference Check your symptoms to decide if and when you should see a doctor.
|By:||Reference Healthwise Staff||Last Revised: Reference October 31, 2011|
|Medical Review:||Reference William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Reference H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine