Yeast Infections, Vaginitis & Bacterial Vaginosis (BV)
- Vaginitis is an irritation of the vulva or vagina.
- Yeast infections are one cause of vaginitis, but not the most common.
- Yeast Infections are easily diagnosed and treated by a health care provider
Nearly every woman gets vaginitis, an irritation of the vagina or vulva, at some point in her life. Sometimes it is caused by a yeast infection, but it also has many other causes. Yeast infections and vaginitis are some of the most common reasons why women see a health care provider. Many women have yeast infections or other kinds of vaginitis more than once. It usually is not serious. But it can be annoying and uncomfortable.
If you have vaginitis, your vagina or vulva may be red, irritated, or uncomfortable. You may have vaginal fluid come out of your vagina that is different from your usual discharge. The discharge may have an unpleasant smell. You also may have itching or burning in or around your vagina. Vaginal intercourse may be uncomfortable. And you may feel as if you need to urinate (pee) more often than usual.
With a yeast infection, discharge is usually thick, white, and odorless. You may also have a white coating in and around your vagina if you have a yeast infection.
With bacterial vaginosis, you may not have any symptoms. Or you may have a heavy vaginal discharge. It is usually grayish and foamy and has an unpleasant, "fishy" odor.
Vaginitis is usually easy to treat. For vaginitis caused by bacterial vaginosis, yeast infection, or trich, your healthcare provider may prescribe creams, suppositories, vaginal tablets, or oral medicines. Some medicines for yeast infections are available without a prescription.
For vaginitis caused by an allergy or an irritant, the symptoms usually go away when you stop using the substance or object that is causing irritation. Sometimes you might need to use a cream to help clear up the problem. In rare, severe cases of allergic reactions, you may require emergency medical attention.
Some women use pads or panty liners to help keep the medicine for vaginitis from leaking onto clothing. Others find them irritating. If you are wondering what you should do, ask your healthcare provider for advice.
It is better not to have sex while you have vaginitis. Intercourse--or other kinds of sex play--may be uncomfortable or painful. Having sex may also make your symptoms worse and make your treatment less effective.
To make sure your treatment works:
- Don't use anybody else's medicine. Even if your symptoms are like somebody else's, you may need different treatment.
- Don't use old medicine. It may not work anymore, and it may even make the infection worse.
- Use up your entire prescription — even if your symptoms have stopped. They may come back if you don't take all your medicine.
- Take your medicine even if you get your period. Some vaginitis infections can grow quickly in menstrual flow.
- Be sure to return for all your checkups.
Don't have vaginal intercourse or share sexual fluids if:
- You or your partner is being treated for bacterial vaginosis, a yeast infection, or a sexually transmitted disease.
- You think either of you is infected.
- Condoms or female condoms are not available.
Vaginitis develops more quickly when the vulva is moist. Be sure to:
- Keep the area around your vulva as dry as possible.
- Wash your vulva regularly with mild soap and water.
- Rinse well and dry thoroughly after washing.
- Let towels dry before you use them again.
- Only use your own towels--don't share them.
- Avoid sitting around in a wet bathing suit.