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Approach to women with symptoms of vaginitis

Jack D Sobel, MD
Section Editor
Robert L Barbieri, MD
Deputy Editor
Kristen Eckler, MD, FACOG


Vaginitis is the general term for disorders of the vagina caused by infection, inflammation, or changes in the normal vaginal flora. Symptoms include vaginal discharge, odor, pruritus, and/or discomfort. These symptoms are extremely common and frequently lead to self-diagnosis and therapy [1]. In a telephone survey of random women in the United States, 8 percent of Caucasian women and 18 percent of African American women reported an episode of vaginal symptoms of any severity in the previous year [2]. A healthcare professional was consulted in 55 and 83 percent of cases, respectively, and most women purchased an over-the-counter antifungal preparation to treat their symptoms, whether or not they saw a physician.


The most common infections responsible for vaginal discharge, odor, pruritus, and/or discomfort are bacterial vaginosis, Candida vulvovaginitis, and trichomoniasis. These disorders account for over 90 percent of infections [3].

(See "Bacterial vaginosis: Clinical manifestations and diagnosis".)

(See "Candida vulvovaginitis: Clinical manifestations and diagnosis".)

(See "Trichomoniasis".)

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Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: Jun 30, 2017.
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