The Vaginal Discharge Panel tests for:
Bacterial vaginosis is caused by an excess of harmful bacteria in the vagina. While vaginosis can be aggravated by sex, it’s important to note that it is not a sexually transmitted infection.
Also not an STD, up to 75% of women will experience a vaginal yeast infection at some point in their lives. It is highly treatable and very important to address before the side effects become severe.
Also referred to as “Trich,” this infection is caused by a very common parasite. It transmits easily, even when protection is used.
It is important to note, there are other infections that can also cause a vaginal discharge or discomfort. If you are seeking comprehensive testing for any vaginal symptoms, please also consider testing for Chlamydia / Gonorrhea, Ureaplasma / Mycoplasma or the Female STD Panel.
What is Bacterial Vaginosis?
BV (Bacterial Vaginosis) is not an STD; it’s an imbalance of certain types of bacteria normally found in the vagina, usually Gardnerella or Atopobium. The excess bacterial growth creates a disproportionate number of “harmful” bacteria and often results in vaginal discharge other uncomfortable symptoms. However, it is very common in women of all ages and can easily be treated.
Although the exact cause of a BV Infection is not known, women do seem to be at increased risk if they:
- Have new sexual partners or multiple sexual partners
- Douche on a regular basis
- Have a taken a recent course of antibiotics
What should a woman know about a BV infection?
Having a BV infection can be very uncomfortable and potentially embarrassing. It is possible for a woman to be asymptomatic with BV, but it’s far more likely that the infection presents with the following symptoms:
- Abnormal or unusual discharge from your vagina
- Fish-like odor that may be more significant after intercourse
- Vaginal itching or irritation
- Abdominal and/or pelvic pain or discomfort
It is important to determine if your symptoms are a result of BV. If left untreated, BV may lead to:
- Inflammation of the bladder
- Sepsis (inflammation of the whole body from a secondary infection)
- Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
- Increased risk of acquiring another STD
What is Candida?
A candida infection is not an STD; it’s an overgrowth of yeast that are normally found in the vagina. It’s incredibly common, with at least 75% of women experiencing one or more infections at some point in their lives.
Unlike bacterial infections, candida is caused by a form of fungus (yeast), most often Candida albicans. It is very common to have candida colonization in the vagina, and undergoing testing if you do not have symptoms (as listed below) is not recommended.
If you are experiencing symptoms, it is important to know if your symptoms are a result of candida so that you can be treated before symptoms become severe or debilitating. Recurring yeast infections can also be an indicator of other health problems.
Candida is not spread from person to person and seems to be more common in:
- Women with HIV
- Diabetic and pregnant women
- Women on certain medications including antibiotics, birth control pills and some forms of chemotherapy
Candida infections often present with the following symptoms:
(The presence of symptoms should always be a precusor to testing to reduce the possiblity of an over-diagnosis.)
- Vaginal itching or irritation
- White, odorless discharge that can be watery, thick or in some cases, chunky
- Redness, swelling and burning in the vaginal area
- Pain with urination or during sexual intercourse
If left untreated, these symptoms can persist and become very severe.
What is Trichomonas?
Trichomonas infection, also called Trichomoniasis or Trich, is an extremely common and highly treatable STD caused by a small parasite associated with female genitals. The parasite is passed from an infected person to an uninfected person during sex. It is estimated that 3.7 million new cases of trichomonas are diagnosed each year in the U.S. Only about 30% of those infected show symptoms, so people often carry the parasite unaware that they are infected.
Trichomonas in women is associated with several complications. The parasite usually affects the vagina, urethra or bladder. If left untreated, it can live with you for years, potentially causing greater susceptibility to other STDs, including HIV. Pregnant women with trichomonas are at increased risk for pre-term labor and the delivery of low birth weight babies.
The symptoms of trichomonas may come and go and may include:
- Itching, burning or soreness of the genitals
- Discomfort when urinating
- More frequent urination
- Pain during sex (dyspareunia)
- A discharge that can be clear, white, yellowish or greenish, with or without a foul odor
What should you do if your test is positive?
Remember that infection with BV and candida is very common and highly treatable. In some cases, these infections can clear up without treatment. But if you’re experiencing uncomfortable symptoms, you should see a healthcare provider who can recommend next steps and possibly prescribe treatment.
To help prevent a BV or candida infection, you may want to consider avoiding douching, scented products, including bath soap, and other over-the-counter vaginal hygiene products. Wear cotton underwear to avoid moisture accumulation and always change out of wet or moist clothing as soon as possible.
Male sex partners do not need to seek treatment. However, you should inform any current female sex partners, so they can be tested and, if necessary, treated as well.
Trichomonas is treatable with antibiotics, so it’s important that you make an appointment with a healthcare provider so you can start treatment right away. You should then avoid having sex until treatment is complete.