Vaginitis: When do I Treat Over-the-Counter?
With the availability of over the counter medications to treat yeast infections, we are seeing a number of women self-diagnosing vaginal infections. Sometimes correctly. Sometimes not!
So, what is normal discharge and what is not? Most women have a vaginal discharge to some extent. Typically, it is a clear, whitish discharge that does not produce a foul odor or cause itching or pain. It may vary during the menstrual cycle, with pregnancy, and with age.
There are several common vaginal infections: yeast, bacterial vaginosis (BV), trichomonasis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia.
Yeast infection symptoms often include a “cottage cheese” white discharge, itching, burning, and pain with intercourse. However, while these are the most common symptoms, they are not the only symptoms nor do all of these symptoms need to be present to be a yeast infection.
Bacterial vaginosis is another common vaginal infection. Its symptoms include a thin milky white or yellow discharge, mild vulvar irritation, and a fishy odor. It can not be treated with a yeast medication and usually requires an office visit for evaluation.
Trichomonasis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia are sexually transmitted. There are many symptoms which may include an unusual discharge, pelvic pain, pain with intercourse, a partner with symptoms, painful urination, redness of the vulva, or burning or itching in the vagina. Sometimes these infections are asymptomatic.
Who needs to come in for an appointment and who can treat themselves at home?
You should make an appointment if:
- you have never been diagnosed in the office before and this is your first infection
- you have tried an over-the-counter treatment and are still experiencing symptoms
- you are worried about an STD
- your symptoms are different than a yeast infection
Remember not to use an OTC medication in the vagina for at least 48 hours before your appointment. Also, we are unable to see you for vaginitis while you are on your period. We will usually see you within 24 hours of your call.