Vagina infections are something almost every woman deals with at some point in her life. This doesn’t make them any easier to go through, though. Understanding the causes and symptoms of the most common kinds of infections can help reassure you that what you’re going through is normal and manageable.
Why infections occur
The vagina is a complex body part. It maintains its own internal conditions, including keeping a good balance of healthy bacteria. Sometimes, however, outside factors can disrupt this balance, causing unhealthy bacteria to grow faster and stronger than the healthy bacteria can control. Certain kinds of fungi occasionally grow excessively as well. When this happens, vagina infections are the result. There are a lot of things that can disrupt the vaginal balance depending on how sensitive your vagina is. For most women, even simple things like using soap that’s not gentle enough can irritate the vagina and potentially cause an infection.
One of the most common types of infections is bacterial vaginosis, or BV. BV is the kind of infection that results from unhealthy bacteria overtaking healthy bacteria in the vagina. The most noticeable symptom of BV is a fishy odor emitting from the vagina. There may also be thin discharge that’s white or clear, and different from your normal discharge. In fact, most infections of the vagina are accompanied by some kind of change in discharge. Other symptoms include itching, burning, soreness, and redness of the vaginal opening.
Yeast infections are another extremely common infection. Health professionals disagree on whether it’s more or less common than bacterial vaginosis. Yeast infections produce fewer symptoms than bacterial vaginosis. Instead of a smelly vagina, the most common symptom is a thick white discharge that resembles cottage cheese. Irritation symptoms like itching and burning may also be present. Since the symptoms of vagina infections can be so similar, many women think they have a yeast infection when they actually have bacterial vaginosis. This is why it’s so important to know and be able to recognize the difference between types of infections.
Some infections are actually types of STDs. Trichomoniasis is the most common type of STD women contract. The symptoms for trichomoniasis are slightly different from non-sexually transmitted infections. Discharge is typically a yellow or greenish-gray color, and may be frothy or foamy. This infection is also accompanied by an unpleasant smell and irritation. Up to a third of infected women actually show no symptoms. Regular STD testing can help catch trichomoniasis before it becomes a major problem. Always use a condom to prevent contracting and spreading STDs. Using a condom will also decrease your risk for developing other kinds of infections.
What to do if you have an infection
If you have, or think you have, any kind of vaginal problem including infections, your best bet is to see a doctor who can give you an accurate diagnosis. After being diagnosed, you can obtain prescription treatments if you like. There are also a few popular home remedies for vagina infections if you prefer a natural approach. Now that you know how to recognize these infections, it should be fast and easy to treat them and restore your vaginal health.