ENGLISH | ESPANOL
1-800-616-2383 | CONTACT

Signs That You Have an STD

STD Types, Symptoms & Treatments

Click on a link below to find out more information, Book An Appointment to test for STD's or Contact Us so that we can discuss your specific needs in confidence.
Gynecologic Inflammations and Infections

Vulvitis

Vaginitis

Candida or "yeast" infections

Cervicitis

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease

Trichomoniasis

Chlamydia

Bacterial vaginosis

Gynecologic Inflammations and Infections

Gynecological inflammations and infections can originate in either the lower or upper reproductive tract. Common infections in the lower reproductive tract include vulvitis and vaginitis. Common infections in the upper reproductive tract include cervicitis and pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).

Vulvitis

What is vulvitis?

Vulvitis is simply an inflammation of the vulva, the soft folds of skin outside the vagina. This is not a condition, but rather a symptom that results from a host of diseases, infections, injuries, allergies and other irritants. Diagnosing and treating this condition can be frustrating because it is often difficult to determine the specific cause of the irritation.

What causes vulvitis?

Vulvitis may be caused by one or more of the following:
Scented or colored toilet paper

Perfumed soaps or bubble baths

Shampoos and hair conditioners

Laundry detergents (especially enzyme activated "cold water" formulas)

Vaginal sprays, deodorants, douches, and powders

Spermicides

Douches that are too strong or used too frequently

Hot tub and swimming pool water

Synthetic undergarments without a cotton crotch

Rubbing against a bicycle seat

Wearing a wet bathing suit for a long period of time

Horseback riding

Who is at risk for vulvitis?

Any woman with certain allergies, sensitivities, infections, or diseases can develop vulvitis. Girls who have not yet reached puberty and postmenopausal women sometimes may develop vulvitis, possibly because of inadequate levels of estrogen.

What are the symptoms of vulvitis?

The following are the most common symptoms for vulvitis. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms of vulvitis may include:
Redness and swelling on the labia and other parts of the vulva

Excruciating itching

Clear, fluid-filled blisters (present when the vulva is particularly irritated)

Sore, scaly, thickened, or whitish patches (more prevalent in chronic vulvitis) on the vulva
The symptoms of vulvitis may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Always consult your physician for a diagnosis.

How is vulvitis diagnosed?

In addition to a complete medial history and physical and pelvic examination, diagnostic procedures for vulvitis may include the following:
Blood tests

Urinalysis

Tests for sexually transmitted diseases (STD’s)

Pap test – test that involves microscopic examination of cells collected from the cervix, used to detect changes that may be cancer or lead to cancer, and to show noncancerous conditions, such as infection or inflammation.

Treatment for vulvitis:

Specific treatment for vulvitis will be determined by your physician based on:
Your age, overall health, and medical history

Cause of the disease

Type of severity of the symptoms

Your tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies

Expectations for the course of the disease

Your opinion and preference

Treatment may include:

Self-help measures (i.e. avoiding external irritants known to provide vulvitis)

Sitz bath with soothing compounds (to help control the itching)

Hydrocortisone creams

Estrogen cream or hormone replacement therapy (may be recommended for postmenopausal women)

Vaginitis

What is vaginitis?

Vaginitis refers to any inflammation or infection of the vagina. This is a common gynecological problem found in women of all ages, with most women having at least one form of vaginitis at some time during their lives.

The vagina is the muscular passageway between the uterus and the external genital area. When the walls of the vagina become inflamed, because some irritant has disturbed the balance of the vaginal area, vaginitis can occur.

What causes vaginitis?

Bacteria, yeast, viruses, chemicals in creams or sprays, or even clothing can cause vaginitis. Sometimes, vaginitis occurs from organisms that are passed between sexual partners. In addition, the vaginal environment is influenced by a number of different factors including a woman’s health, her personal hygiene, medications, hormones (particularly estrogen), and the health of her sexual partner. A disturbance in any of these factors can trigger vaginitis.

What are the most common types of vaginitis?

The six most common types of vaginitis include the following:
Candida or "yeast" infection

Bacterial vaginosis

Trichomoniasis vaginitis

Chlamydia vaginitis

Viral vaginitis

Noninfectious vaginitis
Each of these types of infection has a different cause and can present different symptoms, making a diagnosis often complicated. In addition, more than one type of vaginitis may be present at the same time, with or without symptoms being present.

What is Candida or "yeast" infections?

Yeast infections, as they are commonly called, are caused by one of the many species of yeast known as Candida, which normally live in the vagina in small numbers. Candida can also be present in the mouth and digestive tract in both men and women.

Since yeast is normally present and well balanced in the vagina, infection occurs when something in a woman’s system upsets this normal balance. For example, an antibiotic to treat another infection may upset this balance. In this case, the antibiotic kills the bacteria that normally protects and balances the yeast in the vagina. In turn, the yeast overgrows, causing an infection. Other factors that can cause this imbalance to occur include pregnancy, which changes hormone levels, and diabetes, which allows too much sugar in the urine and vagina.

What are the symptoms of vaginal Candida infection?

The following are the most common symptoms of a Candida infection. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:
a thick, white, cottage cheese-like vaginal discharge, watery and usually odorless

itchiness and redness of the vulva and vagina
The symptoms of a vaginal Candida infection may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Always consult your physician for a diagnosis.

Who is at risk for vaginal Candida infections?

While any woman can develop a yeast infection, the following women may be at an increased risk for the condition:
women who have had a recent course of antibiotics

women who are pregnant

women who have diabetes that is not well controlled

women who are using an immunosuppressant medication

women who are using high estrogen contraceptives

women who have a thyroid or endocrine disorder

women who are undergoing corticosteroid therapy, which slows the immune system

How is a vaginal Candida infection diagnosed?

In addition to a complete medical history and physical and pelvic examination, diagnostic procedures for vaginal Candida infections often include a microscopic examination of the vaginal discharge.

Treatment for vaginal Candida infections: Specific treatment for Candida will be determined by your physician based on:
your age, overall health, and medical history

extent of the disease

type and severity of the symptoms

your tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies

expectations for the course of the disease

your opinion or preference

Treatment for Candida may include:

anti-fungal, vaginal creams and suppositories

vaginal tablets

antibiotics

Cervicitis

What is cervicitis?

Cervicitis is an irritation of the cervix caused by a number of different organisms. Cervicitis is generally classified as either acute, meaning the onset of symptoms is severe and sudden, or chronic, lasting over a period of months or longer.

Acute cervicitis can be caused by any of a number of infections such as gonorrhea, chlamydia, or herpes, and is often confused with vaginitis.

Chronic cervicitis is common in women following childbirth. It is also often associated with pregnancy and the use of oral contraceptives, probably due to an increased blood supply to the cervix as a result of increased hormone levels. Less commonly, cervicitis is caused by sensitivities to certain chemicals, including those in spermicides, latex, and tampons.

What are the symptoms of cervicitis?

The following are the most common symptoms of cervicitis. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:
purulent discharge (containing pus)

pelvic pain

backache

urinary problems
Since infections within the vagina are easily passed to the cervix, where the infecting organisms are harbored, the tissue of the cervix can become inflamed and/or form a cervical erosion, or open sore. One early sign of this is a pus-like vaginal discharge. In addition, as the cervical erosion worsens, cervical ulceration may develop.

The symptoms of cervicitis may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Always consult your physician for a diagnosis.

How is cervicitis diagnosed?

In addition to a complete medical history and physical and pelvic examination, diagnostic procedures for cervicitis may include the following:
Pap test – test that involves microscopic examination of cells collected from the cervix, used to detect changes that may be cancer or lead to cancer, and to show noncancerous conditions, such as infection or inflammation.

Biopsy- a procedure in which tissue samples are removed from the body for examination under a microscope; to determine if cancer or other abnormal cells are present.

Culture of cervical discharge

Treatment for cervicitis:

Specific treatment for cervicitis will be determined by your physician based on:
your age, overall health, and medical history

extent of the disease

type and severity of the symptoms

your tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies

expectations for the course of the disease

your opinion or preference

Treatment may include:

antibiotics (to eliminate infecting organisms)

"watchful waiting" (often in cases caused by childbirth or oral contraceptives)

silver nitrate (to destroy damaged cells in cervical erosion)

cryosurgery – the use of liquid nitrogen, or a probe that is very cold, to freeze and kill abnormal cells

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)

What is pelvic inflammatory disease?

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is caused by a type of bacteria, often the same type that is responsible for several sexually transmitted diseases, such as gonorrhea and chlamydia. In some cases, PID develops from bacteria that has traveled through the vagina and the cervix by way of an intrauterine device (IUD).

PID can affect the uterus, fallopian tubes, and/or the ovaries. It can lead to pelvic adhesions and scar tissue that develops between internal organs, causing ongoing pelvic pain and the possibility of an ectopic pregnancy (the fertilized egg becomes implanted outside the uterus). Left untreated, infertility can develop. In fact, PID is currently the leading cause of female infertility. If left untreated, PID can also lead to chronic infection. In addition, if PID is not diagnosed early enough, peritonitis and inflammation of the walls of the abdominal and pelvic cavity may develop.

Who is at risk for pelvic inflammatory disease?

Although women of any age can develop PID, sexually active women between the ages of 20 and 31 are at the greatest risk of acquiring the disease through sexually transmitted bacteria. Women who use intrauterine devices (IUD’s) are also at an increased risk.

What are the symptoms of PID?

The following are the most common symptoms of PID. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms of PID include:
diffuse pain and tenderness in the lower abdomen

pelvic pain

increased foul-smelling vaginal discharge

fever and chills

vomiting and nausea

pain during sexual intercourse
Symptoms may be mild enough that the condition may go undiagnosed.

The symptoms of pelvic inflammatory disease may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Always consult a physician for a diagnosis.

How is PID diagnosed?

In addition to a complete medical history and physical and pelvic examination, diagnostic procedures for PID may include the following:
microscopic examination of samples from the vagina and cervix

blood tests

Pap test – test that involves microscopic examination of cells collected from the cervix, used to detect changes that may be cancer or lead to cancer, and to show noncancerous conditions, such as infection or inflammation.

ultrasound – a diagnostic imaging technique which uses high-frequency sound waves to create an image of the internal organs laparoscopy – a minor surgical procedure in which a laparoscope, a thin tube with a lens and a light, is inserted into an incision in the abdominal wall. Using the laparoscope to see into the pelvic area, the physician can determine the locations, extent, and size of the endometrial growths.

Culdocentesis – a procedure in which a needle is inserted into the pelvic cavity through the vaginal wall to obtain a sample of pus.

Treatment for PID

Specific treatment for PID will be determined by your physician based on:
your age, overall health, and medical history

extent of the disease

type and severity of the symptoms

your tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies

expectations for the course of the disease

your opinion or preference
Treatment for PID usually includes oral antibiotics, particularly if there is evidence of gonorrhea or chlamydia. In cases of severe infection, hospitalization may be required to administer intravenous antibiotics. Occasionally, surgery is necessary.

What is trichomoniasis?

Trichomoniasis, trichomonas, or "trich" as it is commonly called, is a sexually transmitted infection. It is caused by a one-celled parasite called Trichomonas vaginalis, which passes between partners during sexual intercourse. Since most men do not present symptoms with trichomoniasis, the infection is often not diagnosed until the woman develops symptoms of vaginitis.

What are the symptoms of trichomoniasis? The following are the most common symptoms of trichomoniasis. However each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:
a frothy, often musty-smelling, greenish-yellow discharge

itching in and around the vagina and vulva

burning during urination

discomfort in the lower abdomen

pain during intercourse
Some women with trichomoniasis are asymptomatic. The symptoms of trichomoniasis may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Always consult your physician for a diagnosis.

Treatment for trichomoniasis:

Specific treatment for trichomoniasis will be determined by your physician based on:
your age, overall health, and medical history

extent of the disease

type and severity of the symptoms

your tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies

expectations for the course of the disease

your opinion or preference
Both partners must be treated for trichomoniasis to avoid reinfection. Treatment generally involves taking oral antibiotics. If a woman has more than one sexual partner, each partner (and any of their other partners) should also be treated.

It is especially important for pregnant women to receive prompt treatment for trichomoniasis, as this type of vaginitis can also cause complications during pregnancy, and in some cases, has been linked to preterm delivery.

What is chlamydia?

Chlamydia is the most commonly occurring sexually transmitted disease in the United States, although it often goes undiagnosed. If left untreated, chlamydia often leads to pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which increases a woman’s risk of infertility, pelvic adhesions, chronic pelvic pain, and ectopic pregnancy.

Chlamydia, caused by the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis, exists in a number of different strains. This form of vaginitis is most commonly diagnosed in young women between the ages of 18 and 35 who have multiple sexual partners.

What are the symptoms of chlamydia? Unfortunately, many women have no symptoms, thus prolonging diagnosis and treatment of possibly spreading the disease. The following are the most common symptoms of chlamydia. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:
increased vaginal discharge

light bleeding

pain in the lower abdomen or pelvis

burning during urination

pus in the urine

redness and swelling of the urethra and labia
The symptoms of chlamydia may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Always consult your physician for a diagnosis.

Treatment for chlamydia:

Specific treatment for chlamydia will be determined by your physician based on:
your age, overall health, and medical history

extent of the disease

type and severity of the symptoms

your tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies

expectations for the course of the disease

your opinion or preference
Generally the treatment for chlamydia involves taking antibiotics. It is especially important for pregnant women infected with chlamydia to be treated, as the consequences for a newborn who has passed through the birth canal of an infected mother are quite serious.

What is viral vaginitis?

Viruses are a common cause of vaginitis, with most being spread through sexual contact. One type of virus that causes viral vaginitis is the herpes simplex virus (HSV, or simply herpes) whose primary symptom is pain in the genital area associated with lesions and sores. These sores are generally visible on the vulva, or vagina, but occasionally are inside the vagina and can only be found during a pelvic examination. Often stress or emotional situations can be a factor in triggering an outbreak of herpes.

Another source of viral vaginitis is the human papillomavirus (HPV), a virus that is also transmitted through sexual contact. This virus causes painful warts to grow on the vagina, rectum, vulva, or groin. However, visible warts are not always present, in which case, the virus is generally detected by a pap smear.

What is noninfectious vaginitis?

Noninfectious vaginitis usually refers to vaginal irritation without an infection being present. Most often, this is caused by an allergic reaction to, or irritation from, vaginal sprays, douches, or spermicidal products. It may be also caused by sensitivity to perfumed soaps, detergents, or fabric softeners.

Another form of noninfectious vaginitis, called "atrophic vaginitis", usually results from a decrease in hormones because of menopause, surgical removal of the ovaries, radiation therapy, or even after childbirth-particularly in breastfeeding women. Lack of estrogen dries and thins the vaginal tissue, and may also cause spotting.

What are the symptoms of noninfectious vaginitis? The following are the most common symptoms of noninfectious vaginitis. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:
vaginal itching

vaginal burning

vaginal discharge

pelvic pain, particularly during intercourse
The symptoms of noninfectious vaginitis may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Always consult your physician for a diagnosis.

Treatment for noninfectious vaginitis:

Specific treatment for noninfectious vaginitis will be determined by your physician based on:
your age, overall health, and medical history

extent of the disease

type and severity of the symptoms

your tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies

expectations for the course of the disease

your opinion or preference
Treatment for noninfectious vaginitis generally includes estrogen creams or oral tablets, which can restore lubrication and decrease soreness and irritation.

What is bacterial vaginosis?

While yeast infections are the most commonly discussed vaginal infections, bacterial vaginosis (BV) is actually the most common type of vaginitis in women of reproductive age. This infection is caused by a bacteria, not yeast. With a bacterial vaginosis infection, certain species of normal vaginal bacteria grow out of control and trigger inflammation. The cause of bacterial vaginosis is not known.

What are the symptoms of bacterial vaginosis?

The following are the most common symptoms for bacterial vaginosis. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:
a milky, thin discharge at times, or a heavy, gray discharge "fishy" odor (may become more noticeable during intercourse)
The symptoms of bacterial vaginosis may resemble other conditions. Always consult a physician for a diagnosis.

It is important that pregnant women receive prompt treatment for this condition, as bacterial vaginosis can cause complications during pregnancy and, in some cases, has been linked to preterm delivery.

Treatment for bacterial vaginosis:

Specific treatment for bacterial vaginosis will be determined by your physician based on:
your age, overall health, and medical history

extent of the disease

type and severity of the symptoms

your tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies

expectations for the course of the disease

your opinion or preference
Bacterial vaginosis is caused by bacteria, therefore it is generally treated with an oral antibiotic.

Question

I frequently experience vaginal discharge. Is this considered normal, or might something be wrong?

Answer

It is normal for all women to have some discharge from the vagina. Depending on the stage of the menstrual cycle, normal discharge is either thick and whitish, or slippery and clear. There is little odor and no itching or burning. Regular bathing and proper personal hygiene is important.

However the following vaginal discharge changes can signal a vaginal , cervical, or sexually transmitted disease:
changes in color, quantity, or texture of fluid

an unpleasant odor

bleeding, spotting, or bloody discoloration

itching and burning of the vagina or vulva

Can't find what you're looking for? Please feel free to Contact us at anytime at 1-800-616-2383 or 205-556-2026