Vaginal infections can cause various symptoms, such as itching, burning, foul odor, and inflammation. To treat a vaginal infection successfully, you need to identify the type of vaginal infection you contracted.
A primary care physician or gynecologist can test you to identify the vaginal infection. Sometimes it may be vaginal inflammation, or vaginitis, which may cause symptoms like itching, pain, burning, foul odors, and discharge. Every woman is bound to get vaginitis or a vaginal infection at least once in their lifetime.
A healthy vagina has some yeast and bacteria, which stay balanced by practicing healthy lifestyle habits and routines. However, you can disrupt the healthy balance of yeast and bacteria in the vagina from pregnancy, douching, antibiotics, hormone level changes, vaginal intercourse, or breastfeeding.
Please note that not all vaginal infections are sexually transmitted infections. Some occur for other reasons, such as an overgrowth of yeast or harmful bacteria in the vagina.
The Most Common Vaginal Infection Types
Below are the top 8 most common vaginal infection types:
1) Yeast Infection
Vaginitis is a yeast infection caused by a fungus called Candida albicans. Although several other yeast species exist, candida is the most common to cause yeast infections in women.
All healthy women have a small amount of candida inside their vagina. But certain things can cause the candida to grow excessively, leading to a vaginal infection. These things include pregnancy, menstruation, high blood sugar, HIV, AIDS, and using birth control pills.
The best way to identify a vaginal yeast infection is to look for a white, thick vaginal discharge that resembles cottage cheese. There are great over-the-counter yeast infection treatments such as boric acid suppositories which are very effective,
2) Bacterial Vaginosis
A healthy vagina depends on good bacteria known as lactobacilli to help prevent infections. But if the vagina starts losing its lactobacilli, it will increase the risk of bacterial vaginosis or BV.
Bacterial vaginosis occurs when infection-causing bacteria replace the normal lactobacilli in the vagina for whatever reason. Gardnerella is usually the bad bacteria that replace these good bacteria when bacterial vaginosis occurs.
Once that happens, you will experience common symptoms of a vaginal infection, such as thick discharge, white discharge, or a fishy odor. You probably will not feel burning or itchiness from bacterial vaginosis. There are also effective BV treatments available over the counter.
Trichomoniasis is a unique vaginal infection because it is one of the few sexually transmitted vaginal infections on this list. It is sometimes called Trichomonas vaginalis, a sexually transmittable single-celled parasite.
The potential symptoms of trichomoniasis are vaginal irritation, burning, redness, vulval swelling, greenish vaginal discharge, painful urination, and a fishy odor.
Chlamydia is classified as a sexually transmitted disease that may cause vaginal inflammation. It can cause unusual vaginal discharge, but not always. However, the disease could spread past the cervix and vagina and cause bleeding after sexual intercourse or between periods.
Health experts recommend annual chlamydia testing for all sexually active women between 18 and 26. The reason is that chlamydia does not always cause symptoms, which means affected women may not know they have it without testing. Failure to treat chlamydia quickly could result in fertility damage for the woman.
Gonorrhea is also a sexually transmitted infection and a highly contagious one. Many infected women do not experience any symptoms. But the ones who do experience painful urination, painful vaginal intercourse, and vaginal discharge.
It is common for a woman with gonorrhea to have chlamydia simultaneously. As a result, a woman could test positive for gonorrhea and receive treatment for both infections.
6) Noninfectious Vaginitis
Noninfectious vaginitis is not an infection but a vaginal irritation stemming from an irritating topical product like scented tampons, fabric softeners, or perfumed soaps. The best way to avoid noninfectious vaginitis is to stop using topical products containing fragrances, perfumes, dyes, fabric softeners, detergents, and other irritating ingredients.
Atrophic vaginitis is another type of noninfectious vaginitis. It usually occurs at the beginning of menopause, when a woman loses female hormones. Talk to your doctor for more information about this.
Vulvodynia is a condition where a woman experiences chronic vulval pain and discomfort. The cause is usually unknown and will bring symptoms like stinging, burning, soreness, swelling, and rawness. Sometimes the symptoms are temporary, but they can also be consistent for some women.
8) Viral Vaginitis
Viral vaginitis is a virus-based vaginal infection. It is usually a virus contracted during sexual intercourse, such as the herpes simplex virus. A woman with herpes often gets a vaginal infection like viral vaginitis. The common symptoms include genital pain in the sores and lesions on the genitals caused by the initial virus.
You may see the sores on the outside of your vagina or vulva. But if the infection reaches the cervix or inner vaginal walls, you must visit a gynecologist for a pelvic exam to identify the infection. You won’t be able to see it with your eyesight alone.
Vaginal Infection Treatment
Consult your primary care physician or gynecologist regarding the best treatments for your particular vaginal infection. They will likely prescribe you a medication or recommend an over-the-counter drug to treat the infection and its symptoms.