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Women's Health

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Vaginal Infections and Vaginitis

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The key to treating vaginal infections effectively is getting the right diagnosis.

Pay close attention to exactly which symptoms you have and when. Be ready to describe the color, texture, smell, and amount of discharge. Don't douche before your office or clinic visit; it will make accurate testing hard or impossible. Some doctors will ask you to not have sex during the 24-48 hours before your appointment.

It's better to see your doctor before you try over-the-counter medications, even if you're pretty sure you know what you have.

You treat non-infectious vaginitis by dealing with the probable cause. Consider what products you're using that could be irritating your sensitive skin. For hormonal changes, your doctor may prescribe estrogen to ease symptoms.

Prevent Vaginitis

Keep yourself clean and dry. But doctors don't recommend vaginal sprays or heavily perfumed soaps for this area. Douching may cause irritation, too, and more importantly, could hide or spread an infection. It also removes the healthy bacteria that do the housekeeping in your vagina.

Avoid clothes that hold in heat and moisture. Nylon underwear, tight jeans, non-breathable gym shorts and leggings, and pantyhose without a cotton panel can lead to yeast infections.

Eating yogurt with active cultures (check the label) might help you get fewer infections.

Condoms are the best way to prevent passing infections between sexual partners.

Get a complete gynecologic exam every year, including a Pap smear if your doctor recommends it.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Nivin Todd, MD on September 17, 2015
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