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Overview of vulvovaginal complaints in the prepubertal child

Marc R Laufer, MD
S Jean Emans, MD
Section Editors
Jan E Drutz, MD
George A Woodward, MD
Deputy Editor
James F Wiley, II, MD, MPH


This topic will discuss common vulvovaginal disorders in this population. The gynecological history and physical examination and techniques for obtaining cultures in these children are reviewed separately. (See "Gynecologic examination of the newborn and child".)


Vulvovaginal complaints in prepubertal children may be the result of infection, congenital abnormalities, trauma, or dermatologic conditions. Vaginitis may have a nonspecific etiology or may be due to known pathogens. It is the commonest gynecological problem in prepubertal girls [1]. Symptoms include vaginal discharge, erythema, soreness, pruritus, dysuria, and bleeding. Occasionally, urinary tract or bowel symptoms may be interpreted by a child as vulvar or vaginal complaints.


Nonspecific vulvovaginitis is responsible for 25 to 75 percent of vulvovaginitis in prepubertal girls [2]. There are a number of potential factors in children that increase their risk of vulvovaginitis:

Lack of labial development

Unestrogenized thin mucosa

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Literature review current through: Dec 2017. | This topic last updated: Aug 29, 2017.
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