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Vaginal Discharge/vaginitis

Vaginal Discharge/vaginitis is a topic covered in the 5-Minute Emergency Consult.

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  • Vaginitis is vulvovaginal inflammation with or without abnormal vaginal discharge.
    • Common symptoms: Itching, burning, irritation, pain.
    • Abnormal discharge is defined as an increased amount or change in color.
  • Some amount of vaginal discharge is normal.
    • Glands in the cervix produce clear mucus that may turn white or yellow when exposed to air.


  • Bacterial vaginosis (BV):
    • The most common cause
    • Loss of normal Lactobacillus sp. (e.g., antibiotics)
    • Inability to maintain normal vaginal pH
    • Overgrowth of normally present bacteria such as Gardnerella vaginalis, Mycoplasma hominis, Mobiluncus sp., Prevotella sp., and Peptostreptococcal
  • Bacterial infections:
    • Trichomonas vaginalis (Trichomoniasis)
    • Group A strep
    • Staphylococcus aureus
  • Fungal infections:
    • Candida sp. most common
    • Often underlying immune dysfunction:
      • Diabetes
      • HIV
  • Chemical irritants
  • Foreign body
  • Atrophic vaginitis:
    • Caused by estrogen deficiency
  • Hypersensitivity
  • Collagen vascular disease
  • Herpes simplex virus (HSV):
    • Vulvovaginitis
    • Cervicitis
  • Lichen sclerosis (atrophic)
  • Fistula

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Rosen, Peter, et al., editors. "Vaginal Discharge/vaginitis." 5-Minute Emergency Consult, 5th ed., Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2016. Emergency Central, emergency.unboundmedicine.com/emergency/view/5-Minute_Emergency_Consult/307034/all/Vaginal_Discharge_vaginitis.
Vaginal Discharge/vaginitis. In: Rosen P, Shayne P, Barkin AZ, et al, eds. 5-Minute Emergency Consult. 5th ed. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2016. https://emergency.unboundmedicine.com/emergency/view/5-Minute_Emergency_Consult/307034/all/Vaginal_Discharge_vaginitis. Accessed April 24, 2019.
Vaginal Discharge/vaginitis. (2016). In Rosen, P., Shayne, P., Barkin, A. Z., Wolfe, R. E., Hayden, S. R., Barkin, R. M., & Schaider, J. J. (Eds.), 5-Minute Emergency Consult. Available from https://emergency.unboundmedicine.com/emergency/view/5-Minute_Emergency_Consult/307034/all/Vaginal_Discharge_vaginitis
Vaginal Discharge/vaginitis [Internet]. In: Rosen P, Shayne P, Barkin AZ, Wolfe RE, Hayden SR, Barkin RM, Schaider JJ, editors. 5-Minute Emergency Consult. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2016. [cited 2019 April 24]. Available from: https://emergency.unboundmedicine.com/emergency/view/5-Minute_Emergency_Consult/307034/all/Vaginal_Discharge_vaginitis.
* Article titles in AMA citation format should be in sentence-case
TY - ELEC T1 - Vaginal Discharge/vaginitis ID - 307034 ED - Rosen,Peter, ED - Shayne,Philip, ED - Barkin,Adam Z, ED - Wolfe,Richard E, ED - Hayden,Stephen R, ED - Barkin,Roger M, ED - Schaider,Jeffrey J, BT - 5-Minute Emergency Consult UR - https://emergency.unboundmedicine.com/emergency/view/5-Minute_Emergency_Consult/307034/all/Vaginal_Discharge_vaginitis PB - Lippincott Williams & Wilkins ET - 5 DB - Emergency Central DP - Unbound Medicine ER -