Women's Health

Women's Health

Vaginal or vulvar problems

Most women have minor vaginal or vulvar (the vulva is the opening to the vagina) problems at various times. Vaginal/vulvar changes are often related to:

  • Menstrual cycles
  • Sex
  • Birth control methods
  • Aging
  • Post-pregnancy changes
  • Infection
  • Certain medications

Causes of vaginal/vulvar problems

There are a number of reasons you might experience a vaginal or vulvar problem, including:

  • Vaginal infection
  • Infection of the cervix
  • Sexually transmitted infection
  • Vaginal prolapse
  • Vaginal injury
  • Forgotten tampon or foreign object
  • Sex practices including anal-to-vaginal contact or oral-to-vaginal contact
  • Allergy/sensitivity to soap
  • Tight-fitting clothes
  • Antibiotics and other medications
  • Hormone changes related to menopause
  • Skin changes of the vulva

Symptoms of vaginal/vulvar problems

Common symptoms include:

  • Abnormal vaginal discharge
  • Burning sensation when urinating or frequent urination
  • Pain or bleeding with sex
  • Rashes, sores, blisters or lumps in vaginal or vulvar area
  • Itching or burning of the vulvar skin

Diagnosing vaginal/vulvar problems

Your doctor has a number of ways to determine what is causing your vaginal/vulvar problems. Based on your symptoms, your doctor may perform a pelvic exam and order tests to check for infection or other vaginal condition.

Treating vaginal/vulvar problems

Home treatments such as over-the-counter creams and lubricants may work to relieve your symptoms of itching or dryness. Avoiding sex might help; so might a cool bath or loose-fitting clothing. If your symptoms don’t improve, see your doctor.

Young girls with vaginal problems should be seen by a doctor to determine the cause. In some cases, vaginal symptoms in a young girl can be caused by sexual abuse.