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Health A-Z

Medical Content Created by the Faculty of the
Harvard Medical School

Diagnosis

Your doctor will ask a variety of questions to help pinpoint the cause of your discharge, including questions about recent antibiotic use, whether you have a new sexual partner, menopausal symptoms, diabetes symptoms and other recent changes in your health or lifestyle.

You will then have a pelvic exam. Your doctor will use a device called a speculum to look at the cervix directly. During the pelvic exam, a sample of the discharge is collected for testing. By looking at the discharge under a microscope in the office, your doctor can diagnose yeast infection, bacterial vaginosis or trichomonas infection right away and start treatment. Based on the appearance of the vaginal walls, your doctor may make a diagnosis of atrophic vaginitis

Your doctor will check the tenderness of your cervix, uterus or ovaries by placing his or her fingers inside your vagina. Tenderness may indicate that you have a sexually transmitted disease or pelvic inflammatory disease. Diagnosing gonorrhea or chlamydia requires the results of laboratory tests, which may take a few days.

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From Health A-Z, Harvard Health Publications. Copyright 2007 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. Written permission is required to reproduce, in any manner, in whole or in part, the material contained herein. To make a reprint request, contact Harvard Health Publications. Used with permission of StayWell.

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