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 normal vaginal discharge include:
- Infections of the vagina, such as a yeast infection, bacterial vaginosis, trichomoniasis, human papillomavirus (HPV), or herpes.
- Infection of the cervix (cervicitis).
- An object in the vagina, such as a forgotten tampon.
- Sexually transmitted infections (STIs), such as chlamydia or gonorrhea.
- 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 functional ovarian cysts , 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 pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).
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.
- Burning with urination.
- 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:
- Vaginal prolapse, which may cause urination and bowel changes.
- Retained tampon, birth control device, or foreign object. See 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 (vulvodynia).
- Pudendal neuralgia, from pressure on the pudendal nerve in the genital area.
- Noninfectious vaginitis. Examples of this include:
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.
- Pinworms that have spread from the anus to the vagina.
- The spread of bacteria from an upper respiratory infection of the ears (otitis media) or throat (tonsillitis) to the vagina by her hands.
A young girl with vaginal symptoms must also be evaluated for possible sexual abuse.
Rashes, sores, blisters, or lumps in the vaginal or vulvar area
Many conditions can cause a rash, sore, blister, or lump in your vaginal area (vulva ). One of the most common causes of a rash is 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.
Check your symptoms to decide if and when you should see a doctor.