Vaginal Infections

Julia Raber, MD

Gynecologist located in New Hyde Park, NY

As a board-certified gynecologist who provides comprehensive women’s health care services, Dr. Julia Raber specializes in investigating common gynecological problems, including signs of vaginal infection. Whether you’re experiencing abnormal uterine bleeding, an unusual vaginal discharge, or your recent Pap test results were abnormal, Dr. Raber and her skilled and knowledgeable team can determine the underlying cause of the problem and offer effective treatment solutions. Call her office in New Hyde Park, New York, to find out more, or schedule an appointment online today.

Vaginal Infections Q & A

What causes abnormal vaginal discharge?

The tissues along your vaginal walls and cervix normally generate a clear mucus known as vaginal discharge. Because the amount and quality of discharge your body makes is influenced by your reproductive hormones, vaginal discharge tends to be more noticeable when you’re ovulating, pregnant, or sexually stimulated.  

Normal vaginal discharge ranges in consistency from thin to thick and may be odorless or have a distinct odor. It may also look clear, cloudy, white, or yellow.

An abnormal vaginal discharge, which is often a sign of infection, typically has a disagreeable odor and appears brown or green in color. It’s usually accompanied by vaginal itching or general genital irritation. Leading causes of abnormal discharge include:

  • Chlamydia and gonorrhea, two of the most common STDs
  • Vaginal yeast infection, which is caused by a fungus
  • Bacterial vaginosis, or overgrowth of normal vaginal bacteria

Abnormal vaginal discharge typically resolves itself once the treated infection clears up.

Can abnormal bleeding be a sign of infection?

A normal menstrual cycle lasts anywhere from 24-38 days. When your uterus sheds its lining during this cycle, you experience a normal “period” of bleeding. Normal uterine bleeding, which includes both light and heavy flows, generally lasts no longer than one week.

Uterine bleeding that doesn’t fit the normal definition or happens outside your regular period is considered abnormal. This includes:

  • Bleeding or spotting between cycles or after intercourse
  • Irregular periods that vary in length significantly
  • Very heavy periods that quickly soak pads or tampons
  • Any bleeding that occurs after menopause  

A wide range of factors can cause abnormal bleeding, including common gynecological infections:

Chlamydia and gonorrhea

As the most frequently diagnosed STDs, these infections may first present much like a mild urinary tract infection. If either of these infections goes undetected, they can lead to chronic pelvic pain, bleeding during sex, and spotting between periods.

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)

PID is an inflammatory infection of the female reproductive organs caused by infection. While chlamydia and gonorrhea are the infections most often associated with PID, other bacterial infections can cause the disease, too.

As the most common preventable cause of infertility in the United States, PID is a frequent reason for chronic pelvic pain, abnormal vaginal discharge, and abnormal bleeding.

Because infection isn’t the only possible cause of abnormal uterine bleeding, it’s important to receive an accurate diagnosis. Dr. Raber can usually determine the underlying cause of abnormal bleeding by performing a comprehensive physical exam that includes relevant lab and imaging tests.

What is cervical dysplasia?

If your most recent Pap test shows you have cervical dysplasia, it means your cervix contains abnormal cells that may have the potential to become cancerous sometime in the future.  

Mild cervical dysplasia, which may be called a low-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion (SIL) on your test results, often doesn’t require treatment. Severe cervical dysplasia, which is noted as a high-grade SIL, usually requires further testing.

If you’ve been diagnosed with severe cervical dysplasia, Dr. Raber may check to see if you have an HPV infection. She may also perform a colposcopy to take a closer look at your cervix.

Using a special magnifying device called a colposcope, this quick and simple procedure allows Dr. Raber to see your cervix more clearly and in greater detail. If she notices any questionable-looking cells, she’ll perform a biopsy by collecting a small tissue sample for testing.

If you think you may have a vaginal infection, call Dr. Raber’s office or book an appointment online today.

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