Vaginitis: Care Instructions

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Female pelvic organs

Your Care Instructions

Vaginitis is soreness or infection of the vagina. This common problem can cause itching and burning. And it can cause a change in vaginal discharge. Sometimes it can cause pain during sex. Vaginitis may be caused by bacteria, yeast, or other germs. Some infections that cause it are caught from a sexual partner. Bath products, spermicides, and douches can irritate the vagina too.

Some women have this problem during and after menopause. A drop in estrogen levels during this time can cause dryness, soreness, and pain during sex.

Your doctor can give you medicine to treat an infection. And home care may help you feel better. For certain types of infections, your sex partner must be treated too.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • If your doctor prescribed antibiotics, take them as directed. Do not stop taking them just because you feel better. You need to take the full course of antibiotics.
  • Take your medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor or nurse call line if you think you are having a problem with your medicine.
  • Do not eat or drink anything that has alcohol if you are taking metronidazole (Flagyl).
  • If you have a yeast infection, use over-the-counter products as your doctor tells you to. Or take medicine your doctor prescribes exactly as directed.
  • Wash your vaginal area daily with water. You also can use a mild, unscented soap if you want.
  • Do not use scented bath products. And do not use vaginal sprays or douches.
  • Put a face cloth soaked in cool water on the area to relieve itching. Or you can take cool baths.
  • If you have dryness because of menopause, use estrogen cream or pills that your doctor prescribes.
  • Ask your doctor about when it is okay to have sex.
  • Use a personal lubricant before sex if you have dryness. Examples are Astroglide and K-Y Jelly.
  • Ask your doctor if your sex partner also needs treatment.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have a fever and pelvic pain.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • You have bleeding other than your period.
  • You do not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

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