Jefferson University Hospitals

Obstetrics & Gynecology

Frequently Asked Questions

Our Jefferson Vulvovaginal Health Center team is here to answer all of your questions, starting with the frequently asked questions below.

What is vaginitis?

Vaginitis is the inflammation of the vagina that can cause vaginal itching, irritation, swelling, redness and abnormal discharge. Although vaginitis is a commonly used term and assumed to refer to yeast infections, it is actually a range of conditions that cause vulvovaginal symptoms. Often, patients have multiple conditions contributing to their symptoms.

What causes vaginitis?

Normally, your vagina harbors microscopic organisms that keep the vagina naturally acidic and forms a barrier against infection. If something happens to change the acidity of the vagina, however, harmful microorganisms may grow out of control, causing vulvovaginal symptoms: itching, irritation, swelling, redness and abnormal discharge.

What is an "abnormal" discharge?

Your vagina cleanses itself by means of secretions that form normal vaginal discharge. This discharge ranges from clear to cloudy and has no odor. Normal vaginal secretions are usually limited in quantity, so production of a stain on underwear is sometimes abnormal. Abnormal discharge usually has a distinctive odor and is often accompanied by itching, burning or irritation.

How much time should I allow for my initial visit?

We schedule initial visits for 40 minutes, however some patients may require longer or even shorter evaluation periods depending on their unique situation.

What can I expect on my first visit?

When you arrive, you will be asked to complete a registration form at the front desk. Next, we will conduct a thorough medical history, obtain detailed information about your current medical condition and perform a physical exam. During the exam, we may take a sample for further testing, if necessary. We will review your diagnosis and answer all of your questions while discussing management options.

What happens during follow-up visits?

First, we will discuss any tests performed at the prior visit, answer any questions you may have and go over your feelings about the management plan we aligned on during the previous visit. Next, we will perform another physical exam to evaluate your response to the prescribed treatment. Finally, we will discuss any necessary changes to your treatment plan, answer any additional questions and arrange for further follow-up, if necessary.

Should I bring any past medical records to my initial appointment?

Yes, please bring any past medical records relevant to your current condition for us to review.

Should I keep my appointment if I have my period?

Yes, you should keep your appointment even if you have your period. However, you should reschedule if you are coming in because of abnormal vaginal discharge.

How can I get the most out of my appointment?

If you have any past medical records pertaining to your current complaint, please provide the documents to us either prior to your appointment or at the time of your initial visit. Also, compile a list of all medications you have used for your current condition, as well as a timeline for their use and how you responded to them and for how long. Finally, try to prepare a list of questions you have and write them down so they can all be addressed during your visit.

More Questions?

Please speak with your provider or call us at 215-955-5000. You can also view additional Frequently Asked Questions about managing your Jefferson Health OBGYN visit.