Women: "What about other genital infections?"

Listed below are the signs and symptoms of some of the commoner genital infections in women. Note that they are not all sexually transmitted infections. They can all be treated one way or another. You will find guidelines on the treatment and management of chlamydial infections referenced on the companion professional web site.

Sign / Symptom Possible cause Treatment Remarks
Abnormal clearish discharge from vagina Chlamydia Doxycycline, tetracycline or azithromycin Needs lab test initially and on follow up to ensure treatment is successful. Lab tests are not available in all countries / regions.
Discharge of pus from vagina, marking pants Gonorrhoea

Bacterial Vaginosis





Lab tests to confirm. Gonorrhoea is sexually transmitted. Bacterial vaginosis is caused by overgrowth of normal bacteria. Trichomonas: Not really an STI. Men carry it but don’t usually have signs. Can be passed on by sex between women if fluid from the vagina is exchanged.
White curdy itchy discharge from vagina Thrush Several effective Very common. Sexually transmissible but not necessarily anything to do with your partner. Often due to overgrowth of one of the body’s normal germs, a kind of yeast, particularly after antibiotic for something else.
Smelly "fishy" discharge from vagina Bacterial Vaginosis Flagyl etc Common. Sexually transmissible but not necessarily anything to do with your partner. Often due to overgrowth of one of the body’s normally harmless germs, but needs treatment because it can cause complications. Tell doctor if you may be pregnant.
Pain on passing water (peeing). Urge to pass water frequently. Infection of urethra or bladder Selected antibiotics Common. Can be due to an STI but could be a urinary tract infection. Needs treatment because may lead to kidney damage. Seek medical advice.
Itchy or painful, cold sore-like recurring ulcers or blisters in and around vagina Herpes. Zovirax: controls but rarely cures Very common. The genital equivalent of cold sores. Spread by body contact and oral sex. Seek medical help & tell doctor if you may be pregnant.
Itchy skin, reddish rash in pubic area
Generalised itchy rash

Parasiticidal preparations Contagious. Easily treated. Visit sexual health (GUM) clinic.
Genital warts HPV Various treatments Sexually transmissible and caused by a virus. Spread by body contact. Warts can readily be removed surgically or with ointments.
Painless watery papule or blister on or in the entrance to the vagina. Weepy discharge. Later a general skin rash on most of the body. Syphilis Antibiotic Usually sexually transmitted. Distinguished from the much commoner herpes because latter are painful. Syphilis is very infectious. Papule initially goes away if untreated by infection invades whole body and reappears in a more serious form. Easily confirmed by laboratory tests. Fairly easily and cheaply treated but it is really important that you don't delay. There are also non sexually transmitted forms in warm regions of the world.

Some other rarer conditions may be sexually transmitted or can be spread by sharing drug injecting needles, including hepatitis B and C and of course HIV. Remember: It’s not possible to make the diagnosis by signs only. Expert opinion and lab tests are preferable but not always available.



[MEW] 2011.

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Topic revision: r3 - 2011-04-16 - MeWard
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