If you are experiencing new or unusual symptoms such as: vaginal itching, white/clumpy (like cottage cheese) discharge, increased discharge that is yellow or green in color, bad vaginal odor with or without discharge, burning with urination, or any cuts/sores, these may be symptoms of a vaginal infection. A simple office visit can help determine if you need treatment.
Women can sometimes experience Candidiasis (“yeast infection”), Bacterial Vaginosis (“BV”), or Trichomonas (“trich”). While many triggers may cause these infections, they may be more common when a woman has a new sexual partner, or multiple partners. Some infections don’t often cause any symptoms in men, but occasionally a sexual partner may need treatment as well. Your provider will advise you whether or not this is necessary.
Yeast is a fungal organism (NOT a bacteria) and is found everywhere, and is even present in a healthy vagina. However, an overgrowth or abundance of yeast can cause irritating symptoms. Common contributors to yeast infections are: hormones (pregnancy, birth control), antibiotic use, frequently wearing tight pants/athletic wear, heat, diet high in sugar/carbs, diabetes, etc..
Most women with yeast infections report vaginal itching and burning (burning often occurs with urination), and may have a white clumpy discharge that resembles cottage cheese.
Yeast infections are fairly easy to identify with a vaginal exam, but are confirmed by examining the vaginal discharge under a microscope.
Antifungal medications are given for yeast infections (NOT an antibiotic), and may be given in pill form or as a vaginal cream. Your provider will also discuss lifestyle changes and other tips that can help prevent future occurrences.
BV occurs when there is an overgrowth of the normal bacteria that is always found in the vagina, which upsets the natural balance. The cause of BV isn’t entirely understood, but certain activities such as unprotected sex or frequent douching, can increase your risk.
Symptoms of BV can vary, and some women experience no symptoms despite carrying the infection. Yellow or green discharge with a foul or fishy smell is commonly reported, and some women can experience vaginal itching and discomfort during sex.
A diagnosis of BV is made by assessing your symptoms, doing a visual examination and looking at your discharge under the microscope.
BV is treated with a course of antibiotics targeted to the specific infection. These antibiotics come in pill form as well as vaginal gels/creams. Your provider will also give guidance on behaviors that can lead to overgrowth of vaginal bacteria, especially douching.
Trich is a little protozoan parasite that is almost always acquired through sexual activity. Trich may be present even if exposure was months or years ago.
When a woman has a Trich infection, she often reports a persistent green discharge that looks frothy and smells very foul. Some also say they experience vaginal itching and pain with sex and/or urination. It can also be possible to have a trichomonas infection without any noticeable symptoms.
As with the other vaginal infections, Trich is diagnosed by a vaginal and microscopic exam.
Treatment is a course of oral antibiotics, and it is often recommended for sexual partners to be treated regardless of whether or not they are experiencing symptoms.