Health A-Z

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Infections are treated with antibiotics. Often just one dose of antibiotics by mouth is enough. Another option is to use antibiotics in vaginal cream or gel form, especially if you have significant side effects when you take antibiotics by mouth. Also, the vaginal cream can be more soothing for the inflamed, sore vaginal lining. If you are diagnosed with bacterial vaginosis or trichomoniasis, your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic called metronidazole (Flagyl). If your doctor suspects you have a sexually transmitted disease based on your history and physical exam, you may be given antibiotics by injection and by mouth in the office before the tests results can confirm the diagnosis.

If you have recurrent yeast infections and recognize the symptoms, you may use over-the-counter antifungal creams without a prescription. If your symptoms do not improve, see your doctor for an exam to confirm the diagnosis and change the treatment.

Atrophic vaginitis may develop with hormonal changes, for example, after pregnancy or while on birth control pills. More commonly, it occurs during or after menopause. After menopause, hormone replacement therapy may be taken by mouth or vaginally. Vaginal administration exposes you to lower levels of hormones. For mild cases, using a water-based lubricant may be enough. If you take birth control pills, changing the type or strength of the pill may help to get rid of atrophic vaginitis.

Sexual partners do not have to be treated unless you are diagnosed with a sexually transmitted disease, or you experience recurrent infections and no other factor is making you prone to infection. If your sexual partner experiences a new discharge or discomfort when urinating or during intercourse, he or she should be evaluated by a doctor.

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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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