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Female Genital Problems


Topic Overview

Most women experience minor vaginal problems from time to time. These problems can be related to menstrual cycles, sex, infection, birth control methods, aging, medicines, or changes after pregnancy.

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:

Pelvic Pain

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 cystsClick here to see an illustration., may cause pelvic pain and vaginal bleeding when you are not having your period.

Vaginal infections

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 infection (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:

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 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 (vulvaClick here to see an illustration.). 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.

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