Symptoms and Signs of Vaginal Infections (Vaginitis)

Medical Author:
Medically Reviewed on 8/5/2022

Doctor's Notes on Vaginal Infections (Vaginitis)

Vaginal infections are infections of the tissues of the vagina with viruses, bacteria, yeast, or parasites such as Trichomonas. Not all vaginal infections are considered to be sexually-transmitted diseases (STDs), but many STDs can cause vaginal infections, including herpesviruses, gonorrhea, and chlamydiaCandidiasis, or yeast infection, is another common type of vaginal infection.

In some cases, the infection may not produce symptoms. When symptoms do occur, they vary depending on the type of infection. Associated symptoms and signs include:

  • vaginal discharge
  • odor, 
  • redness, 
  • pain with urination, 
  • pain with sexual intercourse, and 
  • itching of the vaginal area. 

Herpesvirus infections can lead to the characteristic painful blister formation, and infections with human papillomavirus (HPV) can cause genital warts.

What Is the Treatment for Vaginal Infections (Vaginitis)?

Treatment for vaginal infections depends on the cause of the infection. 

  • Bacterial infections like gonorrhea or chlamydia are treated with antibiotics
  • Yeast infections are treated with antifungal medications. 
  • Trichomoniasis may be treated with the antibiotic metronidazole
  • Herpesvirus infections may be treated with antiviral medications to reduce the number and severity of outbreaks, but they do not cure the infection. 
  • Genital warts caused by human papillomavirus infections may be treated, but treatment does not eliminate the infection.

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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.