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Common types of vaginal diseases include bacterial vaginosis, yeast infections, as well as sexually transmitted diseases and vaginal cancer. Although the symptoms of vaginal diseases may be similar, the cause varies from case to case. Symptoms of disease include itching, unusual discharge, and pain in the area.
The most common of all vaginal diseases is bacterial vaginosis, or BV. When a woman has bacterial vaginosis, she has an overgrowth of harmful bacteria in the vaginal area. For some reason, having sexual intercourse and having more than one partner increases a woman's risk of getting bacterial vaginosis, even though it cannot be transmitted sexually. Though the disease does have some symptoms, including burning, itching, and unusual discharge, many women are completely symptom-free.
Having bacterial vaginosis puts a woman at greater risk for other diseases, including HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases, including gonorrhea and herpes. Pregnant women with BV are also at risk for complications, including a premature birth or a baby with a low birth weight.
The second most common of all vaginal diseases is a yeast infection. Tell-tale signs of a vaginal yeast infection include itching and a thick, white discharge. A woman should see her doctor before treating a yeast infection to make sure what she has is, in fact, caused by yeast and not a bacterial infection or sexually transmitted disease. Yeast infections are usually treated with an anti-fungal suppository or an oral medication.
Several vaginal diseases are transmitted sexually, including trichomoniasis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia. Trichomoniasis is caused by a parasite. A woman who has more than one sexual partner is at greater risk of contracting trichomoniasis or any other STD. Condoms and abstinence can prevent the spread of STDs. Spermicide can also kill the parasite that causes trichomoniasis.
The symptoms for trichomoniasis include burning; a gray-yellow, bad smelling discharge; and pain while urinating or having sex. The symptoms may get worse when a woman has her period. A pregnant woman with trichomoniasis may deliver early and can pass the disease to the baby.
Other STDs that affect the vagina, such as chlamydia and gonorrhea, have similar symptoms as bacterial vaginosis or yeast infections. A woman with gonorrhea or chlamydia may have more discharge than usual, pain when urinating, and pain in the lower abdomen. In some cases, a woman with chlamydia may have no symptoms at all. Both diseases increase a woman's risk of contracting HIV. She can also spread the diseases to her baby if pregnant.
@dfoster85 - What a sad story about your friend. It really goes to show that teenagers need a supportive environment and we as a country need to take care of our most vulnerable.
I only found out that I had bacterial vaginosis through routine testing during my pregnancy. If I hadn't been pregnant, it wouldn't have been a big deal I don't think, but my doctor said I needed to treat right away or I would be at risk of miscarriage or preterm labor. I didn't have any unusual vaginal discharge or other symptoms, so I would never have known if they didn't swab me.
Except for HIV, everything they mention above is curable (and HIV is treatable). There's just no excuse for sticking your head in the sand and not taking care of yourself. Find out what's wrong! And see your doctor regularly even if you don't have symptoms.
I like how this article made a point of mentioning the potential impact on pregnant women. When I was in high school, I had a friend who didn't tell her parents she was pregnant and so she didn't get any prenatal care. She showed up at the hospital in advanced labor and delivered vaginally.
It turns out that she had chlamydia. Her baby was born very small - just over five pounds - and the poor thing had the worst case of pink eye I've ever seen. But she was *lucky,* the doctors told her. Her baby was only in the hospital for a few extra days and last I heard (we lost touch) had caught up and was looking healthy
. Had they been less lucky, baby could have been blind, deaf - or stillborn.
Not all STDs cause vaginal discomfort or other symptoms. *All* pregnant women should be tested! Sure, you may know your own history and *think* you know his, but are you really going to jeopardize your baby's life and health over a blood draw and a quick swab?