Most women at some stage in their lifetime will experience some form of vaginal discharge. The discharge may be normal or have a vaginal infection, characterized by discharge, itching, or odor.
Vaginal infections are one of the top 25 reasons for women to consult doctors in the USA. The 3 most common types of vaginal infections (vaginitis) include:
- Bacterial Vaginosis,
- Trichomoniasis and
- Candidiasis, and these may or may not be associated with cervical infection1.
The key to proper treatment of vaginitis is proper diagnosis.
Bacterial vaginosis (BV)
Bacterial Vaginosis is a vaginal infection that occurs when the balance of bacteria in the vagina is altered. It is a common condition affecting millions of women. Bacterial Vaginosis is characterized by the following symptoms:
- Increased vaginal pH to level of above 4.5.
- Thin homogeneous vaginal discharge – watery discharge (up to 50% of pts).
- Positive amine test – fishy odor (In pts with no discharge, the fishy odour may be more noticeable after sex or menstruation).
- Nearly 50% of pts with BV do not have symptoms and don’t know they have BV.
Although the syndrome is curable with standard drugs, recurrence rates are high. Because many patients are asymptomatic (do not experience any symptoms), recurrence is difficult to differentiate from treatment failure. BV is associated with serious complications such as:
- Premature delivery
- Infections after abortion or hysterectomy and
- After placement of an IUD, increase in development of PID (pelvic inflammatory disease) and endometriosis,
- Inflammation of uterus / womb and fallopian tubes
Bacterial vaginosis is not a sexually transmitted infection; however, it is associated with the transmission of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) including HIV/AIDS.
Various diagnostic methods are available to identify the abnormal vaginal discharge.
- Clinical laboratory testing can identify the cause of vaginitis in most women OR
- BV can be diagnosed by the use of clinical criteria (i.e., Amsel’s Diagnostic Criteria considered the gold standard laboratory method for diagnosing BV)
- Clinical criteria require three of the following symptoms or signs:
- Homogeneous, thin, white discharge that smoothly coats the vaginal walls;
- Clue cells on microscopic examination;
- pH of vaginal fluid > 4.5; or
- a fishy odor of vaginal discharge before or after addition of 10% KOH (i.e., the whiff test).
BV can be treated with over the counter medication or by prescription medication. Proper clinical evaluation is recommended to ensure proper treatment.
Trichomoniasis is the most prevalent non-viral sexually transmitted infection. Trichomonal infections are asymptomatic in as many as 50% of male and female patients. The signs and symptoms of Trichomoniasis are:
- More extensive inflammation
- Erosion of the epithelial lining that is associated with burning, itching, and pain during urination
- Smelly or typically foamy discharge
- Yellow or gray-green discharge.
- Increased vaginal pH to levels above 4.5
Trichomoniasis should be treated by a clinician and not by over the counter medication. The sexual partner must also be treated in order to avoid reinfection.
It is said that approximately 75% of women will experience at least one episode of Candidiasis in their lifetime. Candidiasis, otherwise commonly known as Candida is not a sexually transmitted infection and is usually caused by an overgrowth of the yeast that is normally present in the vagina. Some of the signs and symptoms of candidiasis are:
- Vulvovaginal irritation and / or soreness
- Whitish, cheesy discharge
- The pH levels of the vagina remains normal <4.5
With the availability of alternative therapies and over-the-counter medications for candidiasis, many women with symptoms seek these products before an evaluation by a medical provider. Obtaining a medical history alone has been shown to be insufficient for accurate diagnosis of vaginitis and can lead to the inappropriate administration of medication2.
This makes it important for women to have a tool they can use either at home or at their Drs room to determine the cause of their vaginitis and treat correctly.
Coincido offers the only rapid test on the market that can be used either by women at home or by healthcare professionals to monitor vaginal pH and assist in determining the cause of vaginitis:
Result interpretation (considered as part of the clinical evaluation):
- Positive result (blue, green) consider BV or Trichomonas infections.
- Negative result (yellow) consider yeast infection
The SwabEze is comprised of a vaginal swab with a polyester tip.
The swab tip changes color when it comes in contact with vaginal secretions presenting elevated pH (abnormal acidity) or low buffer capacity (watery discharge).
A change of color from pale yellow to green or blue (even if only part of the tip change color) is easy to identify, considered as positive reading
No color scale needed to interpret results.
The Swabeze gives you piece of mind and guidance with appropriate treatment of vaginitis. By using the Swabeze at home you can avoid embarrassing questions when seeking treatment at the pharmacy. The Swabeze is also available in Australia, USA, New Zealand, UK and many other international markets.
For more information on how to order the Swabeze for monitoring vaginal pH you can visit:
www.coincido.co.za or call 011 589 989
- MANAGEMENT OF VAGINAL DISCHARGE A AHOOSEN CME February 2004 Vol.22 No.2
- Page last reviewed: June 4, 2015