• Grace Health

Types Of Vaginal Infections Explained

Updated: Sep 7

Have you ever known something is off about your vaginal health but you can’t quite determine what it is? With various types of vaginal infections, we can only imagine how difficult it would be to distinguish one from the other. The symptoms could be similar but without knowing what it is, it’s hard to figure out the treatment. In this blog post, we will explain some of the most common vaginal infections to help you understand what could be going on with your body.




What is a vaginal infection?

Vaginal infections or also known as Vaginitis and can be referred to as a few different conditions that cause infection or inflammation of your vagina. On the bright side, they are fairly common. In fact, research shows that a third of people with vaginas will develop vaginitis at some point in life. The infections can happen at any time but mostly affects those of reproductive age that is between their teens to 40 years of age. Something else you might not know is that you can develop a vaginal infection without having sex, penetrative or any other type of sex. Vaginitis is not the same as a sexually transmitted infection (STI), however, certain types of sexual activity can sometimes contribute to infections.


What symptoms should I look out for?

News flash!! Vaginal infections don’t always cause noticeable symptoms!

Here are a few common symptoms that you may notice:

  • Unusual vaginal discharge. Change in odour, colour, texture and amount.

  • Irritation and swelling of the vagina and vulva

  • Vaginal itching and burning

  • Vaginal soreness and discomfort

  • Pain or burning during urination

  • Pain during penetrative vaginal sex

  • Bleeding or Spotting

This doesn’t mean that you need to see all the symptoms to have an infection. You might only see one or a few of the symptoms listed above.


What would cause a vaginal infection?

In most scenarios, vaginal infections tend to develop when something affects the usual balance of bacteria and yeast in your vagina. These common causes can be categorized into types. Let’s have a look at some of them.


Yeast Infections

Usually as a result of the fungus called Candida, typically Candida albicans. Various factors, including, stress, hormonal changes, a compromised immune system, and antibiotics can all reduce the number of antifungal bacteria in your vagina, leading to an overgrowth of yeast.


Symptoms

  • Thick, sticky, white discharge

  • Itching, irritation, and burning in and around the vagina

  • Swelling around the vulva and vagina

For some, symptoms may worsen just before a menstrual period.


Treatment

Treatment involves antifungal medication that can be taken orally or applied inside the vagina.


Bacterial vaginosis

Caused by an overgrowth of certain bacteria naturally found in your vagina. While BV isn’t considered an STI it can be caused by sexual contact — including hand-to-genital, oral, and penetrative vaginal sex.


Symptoms

  • Thin grey or white discharge

  • A fishy-smelling odour from the vagina

  • Itching of the vulva

  • A burning sensation while urinating

  • Pain during sexual intercourse


Treatment

A doctor usually prescribes medication for BV. If a person develops recurring BV, they will likely prescribe a second course of antibiotics or treat the condition for a longer period of time.


Trichomoniasis

This infection occurs due to a parasite called Trichomonas vaginalis. Also a very common STI.


Symptoms

  • A change in vaginal discharge, such as thin discharge, an increase in volume, or a change in colour to clear, yellow, or green

  • Itchy, sore, flushed, or burning genitals

  • Discomfort during urination


How can I prevent vaginal infections?

Sadly, not all vaginal infections can be prevented, but these tips can help reduce your chances of getting infected.

  • Avoid using scented period products, including tampons, pads, and liners.

  • Avoid douching, vaginal deodorants, and any scented sprays or perfumes on or in your vagina.

  • Avoid washing the vagina with soaps, especially scented ones. Learn how to wash your vagina here.

  • Switch to an unscented detergent, or one designed for sensitive skin, and skip the perfumed fabric softener.

  • Wear absorbent and breathable cotton underwear, or underwear with a cotton crotch, to help prevent vaginal irritation and inflammation.

  • Change out of swimsuits and damp workout gear as soon as possible to help prevent excess moisture.

  • Wash sex toys after each use, according to their care instructions. Avoid sharing sex toys before cleaning them.

  • Wear tights, leggings, pantyhose, and workout bottoms that have a cotton crotch.


When should I see a doctor?

Sometimes vaginal infections may clear up without treatment but this won’t always be the case. Make an appointment with your doctor if you:

  • Have never had a vaginal infection before

  • Believe you could have been exposed to an STI

  • Had a vaginal infection in the past, but you’re having new or different symptoms

  • Have symptoms that don’t improve with over-the-counter (OTC) treatment

  • Notice yellow or bloody discharge, or discharge with a foul odour

  • Are vomiting, have a fever, or have low back and stomach pain

  • Have difficulty urinating or need to urinate more than usual

Different things may cause a vaginal infection. Although vaginal infections are not STIs sexual activity could cause them. To be able to treat the infections you’ll first need to observe your symptoms to identify what type it is then seek medical attention if the symptoms get worse or if it causes extra severe symptoms. Remember it is important to treat infections so it doesn’t impact your fertility later.

Stay informed, stay control

Hope you learned something today


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