A nurse or doctor can tell if you have vaginitis, and help figure out why it happened. Vaginitis treatments vary depending on what’s causing the problem.
Do I have to go to the doctor if I have vaginitis?
If you have symptoms of vaginitis, it’s a good idea to see your nurse, doctor, or local Planned Parenthood health center. Vaginitis isn't usually a major health problem, but if you don’t get it treated it can become serious.
There are many different causes of vaginitis, and STDs like gonorrhea and chlamydia can have symptoms that are really similar to vaginitis. Seeing a doctor is the best way to find out exactly what’s going on, so you can get the right treatment.
To see what’s causing your vaginitis, your doctor may do an exam, look at a sample of your vaginal discharge under a microscope, or do other tests, like a urine test.
If your doctor has diagnosed you with a vaginal yeast infections before and you’re having the same symptoms, you can try an over-the-counter yeast infection medicine. But if you’re not sure, see your doctor or go to a Planned Parenthood health center. And if you used an over-the-counter medicine but your symptoms don’t go away, see a doctor.
What are the treatments for vaginitis?
Vaginitis is usually easy to cure. The type of vaginitis treatment that’s best for you depends on:
what’s causing your vaginitis
how bad your symptoms are
whether you're pregnant
If your vaginitis is caused by a yeast infection, bacterial vaginosis, or trich, your doctor may give you a prescription for creams, suppositories, vaginal tablets, or pills. You can also get medicated creams or suppositories for yeast infections (like Monistat) at the drugstore without a prescription. Trich is the only type of vaginitis that’s sexually transmitted. So if you have trich it’s very important for your sexual partners to get treated, too.
If your vaginitis is caused by an allergy or irritation, the symptoms will usually go away when you stop using whatever’s causing the problem. Sometimes you might need to use a cream to help clear up your vaginitis. In rare cases of really bad allergic reactions, you may need emergency medical help.
If your vaginitis is caused by low levels of estrogen, your doctor may give you a prescription for creams, pills, or vaginal rings that release estrogen into your body.
No matter what type of vaginitis treatment you need, make sure you:
Don't use anybody else's medicine. Even if your symptoms are similar, you may have a different infection or need a different kind of treatment.
Don't use old medicine. It may not work anymore, and it could even make the infection worse.
Carefully follow your doctor’s instructions or the directions that come with your treatment.
Use ALL of your medicine. The infection can come back if you don't take all your medicine, even if your symptoms stop and even if you have your period.
Go to a follow-up appointment with your doctor to make sure the treatment worked.
During your vaginitis treatment:
Don’t put anything in your vagina except medicine or tampons. Take a break from oral or vaginal sex until you feel better.
If you have your period, it’s okay to use tampons or menstrual cups, unless it’s the kind of medicine you put into your vagina. If that’s the case, use pads instead.
If you’re using gels or creams inside your vagina, you can use unscented pads or panty liners to help keep the medicine from leaking onto your clothes.
How can I ease irritating symptoms of vaginitis?
Even though vaginitis can be super itchy and irritating, try not to scratch. It can cause more irritation or cuts in your skin, which can spread germs and lead to more infection. There are over-the-counter vaginal creams that you can use on your vulva to help calm the irritation. Your doctor can also give you tips on relieving burning and itching.
Avoid sex until your infection or irritation goes away (especially if you have trich, because it’s a sexually transmitted infection that you and your partner can pass back and forth). Friction from sex and your partner’s body fluids can cause more irritation or make it harder to heal. And some medicines that you use in your vagina have oil in them, which can cause condoms to break.
Where can I get checked and treated for vaginitis?
You can get checked and treated for vaginitis at your local Planned Parenthood health center, community or reproductive health clinics, or your ob/gyn or family doctor.