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Vaginal Infections (cont.)

Vaginal Infection Diagnosis

Your health care practitioner will ask about your symptoms and perform a physical exam. Urine tests and samples of any discharge will likely be done.

  • You may be asked questions including the following:
  • When did this condition begin? Has the discharge been the same throughout the month?
  • What does the discharge look like? What color and consistency? Is there an odor?
  • Do you have pain, itching, or burning?
  • Does your sexual partner, if you have one, have discharge from his penis?
  • Do you have many sexual partners?
  • Do you use condoms?
  • What helps relieve the discharge? Do you take frequent baths? Have you tried over-the-counter medications? Douching?
  • What other symptoms do you have?
  • What medications do you take for all conditions?
  • Have you changed detergents or soaps you use?
  • Do you often wear tight underwear or pants/jeans?
  • During the pelvic examination, the doctor will inspect your vagina and cervix for any discharge or sores. During the pelvic examination, the doctor will determine the size and location of the uterus and cervix. The doctor will assess if you have pain or tenderness on movement of the cervix and uterus, or in the areas next to the uterus, which correspond to the Fallopian tubes and ovaries.
    • During the vaginal examination, a speculum is introduced into the vagina to see the cervix. Swabs will be taken of any discharge to determine if the infection is fungal (yeast), protozoan (trichomoniasis), or bacterial (bacterial vaginosis). Your health care provider can examine a sample of vaginal discharge under a microscope to detect the presence of the organisms associated with vaginal infections.
    • In some cases, a Pap test will be performed to exclude the possibility of cervical cancer. This test is sent to the laboratory, and results are usually obtained within one week.
    • Newer DNA-based tests are quite accurate for diagnosing vaginal infections.
  • A colposcopy or biopsy might be recommended if your cervix appears abnormal. Colposcopy uses a lighted microscope to get a magnified view of the surface of the cervix. In a biopsy, a tissue sample is taken for testing.
    • Certain blood tests can detect antibodies to the yeast-infection causing Candida albicans. This test is not very reliable for vaginal infections and is only useful in people who have an infection that affects their whole body.
    • If trichomonas is present, and confirmed by laboratory tests, your doctor may do more tests for other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
    Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/7/2014

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