Vaginal infections: types, symptoms, and causes

Infections are some of the most common vaginal problems among adult women. Vaginal infections are caused by bacteria, viruses, yeast cells and single-celled organisms (protozoans).

Many women don’t realize they have a vaginal infection until diagnosed by their gynecologist during regular checkups.

Types of vaginal infection

There are several kinds of vaginal infection, or vaginitis:

  • Bacterial vaginosis (BV)
  • Vaginal yeast infection
  • Trichomoniasis (not suitable for self-medication)

Vaginal infection symptoms can vary greatly depending on the cause. Read on to learn more about the types of vaginal infection.

Bacterial vaginosis (BV)

Bacterial vaginosis (also called BV) is the most common vaginal infection. It’s caused by harmful bacteria getting the upper hand over the vagina’s regular, healthy bacteria (lactobacilli). Bacterial vaginosis is even more common than vaginal yeast infections.

Even though it’s often called an infection, BV is actually more of an imbalance in the vaginal flora.

You might have also heard people calling BV ‘gardnerella.’ This is because gynecologists often find the Gardnerella vaginalis bacteria in the discharge of women who have bacterial vaginosis. However, this is not the correct name for this kind of vaginal infection.

The following symptoms might indicate bacterial vaginosis:

  • Foul, fish-like odor (which may be intensified after intercourse)
  • Thin, grayish white vaginal discharge

Learn more about bacterial vaginosis

Vaginal yeast infection

Yeast infections are primarily caused by the Candida albicans fungus. For most women, this fungus is found naturally in the vagina. However, if Candida albicans multiplies rapidly, it can soon get the upper hand over good bacteria. The result: a vaginal yeast infection. This is why yeast infections are also known as candida.

You can recognize a yeast infection by these symptoms:

  • Itchiness
  • Thick, white discharge (often compared with cottage cheese)
  • Redness in and around the vagina

Learn more about yeast infections

Trichomoniasis (not suitable for self-medication)

Trichomoniasis (also called trich) is an sexually transmitted disease caused by the Trichomonas vaginalis parasite. Many women with trichomoniasis do not experience symptoms. However, severe infections may cause:

  • Pus-like, yellow-green discharge
  • An unpleasant smell
  • Painful burning sensation

Another complication of trichomoniasis is that it makes women who have it more susceptible to other STDs. If you think you may have trich, always consult your doctor! Multi-Gyn cannot be used to treat trichomoniasis.