Signs and Symptoms
1. Redness, itching.
2. Burning during urination (sometimes).
3. Pain during intercourse.
4. White, cheesy, odorless discharge (sometimes).
1. Watery, grayish white or yellow discharge with a fishy odor.
2. Mild burning or irritation.
1. Redness and itching of the vulva (the outer genital area).
What to do now
Yeast infection or bacterial vaginosis:
1. Dry the vulva area thoroughly, especially after urinating or showering.
2. For a yeast infection, try an over-the-counter antifungal suppository cream containing miconzole or clotrimazole.
3. If urinating causes burning, urinate through a plastic cup with the bottom cut out, pressed against your vulva, to keep urine from touching sensitive skin; or use a squirt bottle to spray warm water over the vulva while urinating.
4. To prevent a recurrence, take all your medications until they run out, even after symptoms disappear.
1. Apply a cool compress or try hydrocortisone cream on irritated skin.
2. Rinse your underwear a second time with plain water after it has been washed with detergent.
When to call a doctor
1. If you have bleeding between menstrual periods after menopause; a firm, raised lesion or bump on the vulva or inside the vagina; or persistent vaginal pain and itching. These may be signs of cancer of the vagina or vulva.
2. If you have vaginal discharge that is yellow or green and foul smelling. This may signal a sexually transmitted disease.
3. If you have symptoms of bacterial vaginosis; doctor can treat the infection with an oral antibiotic.
4. If you have symptoms for the first time, or if they recur more than twice a year.
5. If symptoms don’t go away after prescribed or home treatment, or are severe.
How to prevent it
1. Avoid spreading bacteria from the rectum to the vagina by wiping from front to back after a bowel movement.
2. Avoid scented toilet paper and perfumed soaps, douches, and scented or deodorant tampons.
3. Thoroughly clean diaphragms, cervical caps, and after each use.
4. Don’t wear tight pants, panties or other fabrics and clothing that can trap moisture.
5. If you are taking antibiotics ask your doctor if you should apply an antifungal cream to the vulva to prevent a yeast infection.
6. Examine your vulva monthly for changes.
7. Have a pelvic exam and Pap smear at least once a year.
8. Get an exam and a Pap smear every six months if you’ve had genital warts that your doctor has told you are cancer-related, if you know your mother took the drug DES (diethylstilbestrol), if you’ve had a hysterectomy or radiation therapy, or if you are sexually active with more than one partner. You may be at higher risk for vaginal cancer or sexually transmitted diseases.