What is bacterial vaginosis?
A bacterial infection is caused by an overgrowth of certain types of bacteria that normally live in the vagina. The normal environment of the vagina may get out of balance and the infection cause bacteria to multiply faster than they normally would while other types of bacteria that normally keep them in check do not.
What are the symptoms of a bacterial infection?
The most common symptoms are an increased vaginal discharge with a strong fishy odor. The discharge is usually thin and dull or dark gray but may have a greenish color.
What may increase my risk of getting a bacterial infection?
The balance and acidity level of the vagina can be changed by many things. Douching, sexual activity, and even pregnancy may increase the occurrence of infection for some women but often a particular cause cannot be determined.
What medication will I receive if I have bacterial vaginosis?
Bacterial infections can be treated by antibiotic medications placed in the vagina or by taking medications by mouth. It is very important that you use these medications for the entire time the physician recommends.
Metrogel (metronidazole gel) and Cleocin (clindamycin cream or ovules) are inserted into the vagina at night using an applicator. These are not often used during pregnancy since they have not been found to be as effective in treating the infection during that time. The length of time these medications are used vary depending on what medication is prescribed.
Antibiotics taken by mouth, such as Flagyl (metronidazole tablets) or clindamycin, are usually taken twice a day for seven days. Many women find oral medication more convenient but while taking Flagyl (metronidazole) you should not consume alcohol. Drinking alcohol while taking this medication often results in severe vomiting.
It is common to delay giving oral antibiotics for bacterial infection to pregnant women until after the first trimester unless symptoms are bothersome. This allows the doctor to use the most effective treatment. Safe treatment is available during the first part of pregnancy but may not be as effective in curing the infection.
If you still have symptoms several days after finishing the treatment recommended by your doctor it is important to call and let them know.
Do I need to see the doctor anytime I have a bacterial infection?
There are no over the counter medications currently available to treat bacterial infections. In order to be sure that the symptoms you are having are from a bacterial infection and should be treated with antibiotics the doctor or other healthcare provider must examine you and collect a sample for testing by the laboratory.
What is yeast infection?
A yeast infection is usually caused by a fungus called Candida. A small amount of yeast and bacteria are normally present in the vagina. The bacteria and yeast sometimes get out of balance and the yeast overgrows.
What are the symptoms of a yeast infection?
The most common symptoms are itching and burning in the area around the opening of the vagina. This area may become red and swollen. Vaginal discharge is usually white and lumpy but does not have a strong odor.
What may increase my risk of getting a yeast infection?
The balance between yeast and bacteria can be changed by many things. Taking some types of antibiotics, pregnancy, and diabetes increase the likelihood that a woman will get a yeast infection.
What medication will I receive if I have a yeast infection?
Yeast infections can be treated by medication placed in the vagina or by taking a pill by mouth.
The cream (usually Terazol, also known as Terconazole) is placed in the vagina with an applicator at night for 3 to 7 days and is safe to use during pregnancy. Most women find that symptoms are relieved sooner by using the cream and a small amount can be used around the outside of the vagina to help decrease itching and irritation through the day. It is very important that you use the medication for the entire time it is prescribed even if your symptoms go away in order to make sure the infection is completely treated.
The pill (Diflucan or Fluconazole) is often just one pill taken one time. In some cases more than one pill may be prescribed by your doctor to be taken 3 days apart. Symptoms may not go away for a few days after taking the pill.
If you still have symptoms several days after finishing the treatment recommended by your doctor it is important to call and let us know.
Do I need to see the doctor anytime I have a yeast infection?
There are some treatments available without a prescription to treat yeast infections that work very well for most women. We suggest that anyone who has never before had a yeast infection, isn’t absolutely sure that the problems they are having are a yeast infection, or has tried these treatments without the symptoms going away completely make an appointment. It is important that we make sure that the symptoms you are having are really caused by yeast and not another type of vaginal infection. Medications to treat yeast when the symptoms have another cause, like bacteria, can make symptoms worse.
Screening tests are available for many of the most common sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). You may request screening tests or your physician may offer these tests at your appointment based on a number of risk factors and current recommendations. Some common STDs are Gonorrhea, Chlamydia, Trichomoniasis, Syphilis, Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), and Hepatitis B.
Screening tests for Chlamydia are routinely performed at the time of a pelvic exam for women sexually active and age 25 or under. At the time of the exam, a small swab may be used to collect a sample from the cervix to determine if Gonorrhea, Chlamydia, and/or Trichomoniasis are present. A small amount of your blood may be drawn and sent to the laboratory for testing in order to screen for Syphilis, HIV, and Hepatitis B. Results from these tests are usually available within a week to ten days.
- Gonorrhea: Gonorrhea is an infection that often occurs with no symptoms in women. The cause is a bacterium that grows quickly in warm, moist areas of the body. The most common place this germ grows is the cervix but it may also infect the mouth or throat through oral sex with an infected partner. Gonorrhea can also infect the rectum and urinary tract. Gonorrhea is treated with antibiotics which are given by mouth and by injection. Sexual partners must be treated to prevent the infection from recurring.
- Chlamydia: Chlamydia is one of the most common STDs in the United States today and also often occurs with no symptoms in women. Chlamydia is a bacterium that commonly infects the cervix and may spread to the uterus and fallopian tubes. Chlamydia can also be found in the urinary tract, rectum, throat, and even the lining of the eye. Chlamydia is treated with antibiotics which are given by mouth. Sexual partners must be treated to prevent the infection from recurring. Delay in diagnosis of Chlamydia may lead to difficulty becoming pregnant.
- Trichomoniasis: Trichomoniasis is a condition caused by a microscopic parasite. Symptoms may include a yellow-gray or green vaginal discharge. The discharge may have a fishy odor. There may be burning, irritation, redness, and swelling of the vulva and sometimes there is pain during urination. Trichomoniasis is usually treated with a single dose of antibiotic by mouth. Sexual partners must be treated to prevent the infection from recurring.
- Syphilis: Syphilis occurs in stages. It first appears as a painless sore (called a chancre) which last 10 days to 6 weeks after contact. If not treated the next stage begins 1 week to 3 months later when a rash may appear and you may feel as if you have the flu. The rash usually appears on the soles of the feet and palms of the hands. Flat warts may be seen on the vulva. The rash goes away in a few weeks or months but the disease may return years later. If not treated syphilis may affect your heart, blood vessels, and nervous system. If treated early, long term problems can be prevented. Syphilis may be spread by contact with a chancre during the first stage of infection or by touching the rash, warts, or infected blood during the second stage of infection. Syphilis is treated with antibiotics. Because it is easy to spread during the first and second stages, you should avoid sexual contact until both you and your partner’s treatment have been completed.
- HIV: Human Immunodeficiency virus (HIV) causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). The rate of HIV infection is increasing most rapidly among heterosexual women. The HIV virus enters the bloodstream by way of body fluids- usually blood or semen. The virus then invades and kills cells of the immune system making the body less able to fight disease. If someone is infected, he or she will always carry the virus and may pass it on to others. There is no vaccine to prevent HIV infection and there is no cure for AIDS. However, there are some medications that fight HIV-related infections and help protect your immune system. This can help you live a longer, healthier life. Treatment with medication during pregnancy can greatly lower the risk of passing the HIV virus to the baby.
- Hepatitis B: Hepatitis B is a type of hepatitis virus that attacks and damages the liver over time, eventually causing the liver to stop working. The liver cleanses waste from the body, breaks down and filters out harmful substances that you consume, and creates a substance that helps with the digestion of food. A person infected with hepatitis B virus may not show any symptoms. When symptoms do occur they may include yellowing of the skin and eyes, loss of appetite, nausea, headache, stomachache, muscle aches, and extreme fatigue (tiredness). For most adults the infection clears up completely in a few weeks and they then become immune to the virus but 5- 10% of infected adults become carriers for the rest of their lives (the infection never clears up). All carriers can pass the virus to others by direct contact with body fluids such as semen, blood, and vaginal fluids. There is no cure for hepatitis B- it is best to take steps to prevent it. A vaccine is available which triggers your body’s immune system to fight off the virus when you are exposed to it and this is recommended for anyone at high risk.
- Human Papillomavirus (HPV):
HPV is a common virus. In 2005, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that 20 million people in the United States had this virus. There are many different types of HPV; some cause no harm. Others can cause diseases of the genital area. For most people the virus goes away on its own. When the virus does not go away it can develop into cervical cancer, precancerous lesions, or genital warts, depending on the HPV type.
In 2005, the CDC estimated that at least 50% of sexually active people catch HPV during their lifetime. A male or female of any age who takes part in any kind of sexual activity that involves genital contact is at risk. Many people who have HPV may not show any signs or symptoms.
Recent studies have shown that HPV may also cause cancers in the mouth or throat. Ask your provider about the HPV vaccine, Gardasil.