Understanding Common Vaginal Infections

Posted on: 31 March 2016


Vaginal infections are quite common, and most women will experience at least one in her lifetime. These types of infections can be tricky, as they can share some of the same symptoms but require different types of treatments. It is possible for the skin of the vulva to become irritated due to the use of scented feminine hygiene products or a new type of laundry detergent, and vaginal discharge can change throughout a woman's cycle. But if you are experiencing pain, irritation, itching, foul odors, or extremely thick vaginal discharge from your vagina, it is in your best interest to see your gynecologist as soon as possible for diagnosis and treatment. Some of the most common types of vaginal infections include:

Yeast Infections

While yeast infections are not dangerous to a woman's overall health, they can be very irritating and uncomfortable. This type of infection occurs when yeast, which is a fungus that naturally inhabits the vagina, experiences a rapid overgrowth. Common signs of a yeast infection include extreme itching of the vaginal area, a thick white discharge, and redness and irritation of the vulva. If you have never been diagnosed with a yeast infection before, it is a good idea to visit your gynecologist. After an initial diagnosis by a doctor, women can then pick up over the counter anti-fungal ointments or suppositories that are designed to cure yeast infections.

Bacterial Vaginosis

Like yeast, there is friendly bacteria that inhabits the vagina. If the number of friendly bacteria gets too low or drops suddenly, it is not uncommon for infection-causing bacteria to move in. The result is bacterial vaginosis, an infection that typically produces a marked change in vaginal discharge and may be accompanied by what women describe as a "fishy" smell. The symptoms of bacterial vaginosis typically do not include itching or irritation, but it is important to see a gynecologist as soon as possible for antibiotics to treat the infection.

Trichomonas Vaginitis

Trichomonas vaginitis is one of the more common vaginal infections, but unlike yeast infections or acterial vaginosis it is sexually transmitted between partners. This type of infection shares similar symptoms to the others-- irritation, redness, and swelling of the vulva, and a reported "fishy" odor in some cases. A woman with trichomonas vaginitis may also experience vaginal discharge that is yellow-gray or greenish in color. This type of vaginal infection is caused by a single-cell parasite, so it is important to see your gynecologist promptly for treatment if you suspect that you have this infection.

If you have problems with a vaginal infection, contact a gynecologist.