Vaginal Yeast and Bacterial Infections: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know

WellnessSelf CareVaginal Yeast and Bacterial Infections: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know

Vaginal Yeast and Bacterial Infections: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know

Vaginal Yeast Infections

For many years, the medical community hasn’t taken the health complaints of females as seriously as they should. Unfortunately, this has lead to a stigma that causes many women to not advocate for their health. It also continues to contribute to a surprising amount of ignorance about women’s bodies, especially of their reproductive systems and sexual organs. Unfortunately, being ignorant of our bodies doesn’t stop us from having issues with them and our vaginas are no different.

Yeast infections (also known as candidiasis) are common infections in warm, moist areas of the body caused by Candida albicans yeast, which is a type of fungus. In a healthy vagina there is naturally occuring bacteria and yeast, but when the balance of those two cells changes, the yeast can multiply and cause a yeast infection or vulvovaginal candidiasis. Vaginal yeast infections are common among teen girls, and about 75% of all females will have one at some point in their lives. A vaginal yeast infection can cause pain, itching, redness, a thick white vaginal discharge, pain during urination, and sometimes white patches on the skin of the vaginal area.

Treating a vaginal yeast infection can relieve symptoms within a few days, but in more severe cases, it may take up to 2 weeks. Once you get a yeast infection, you’re more likely to get another one (and another, and another!). Most yeast infections are successfully treated with over-the-counter antifungal medications. For recurring yeast infections, you should see a healthcare professional as you may need a longer treatment course and perhaps even a maintenance plan.

Vaginal yeast infections are not sexually transmitted infections (STIs), even though sexual contact can spread them. Women who aren’t sexually active can also have them. Many things can contribute to vaginal yeast infections:

  • Being pregnant or taking high-dose birth control pills:
    WHY: Hormone changes disrupt the pH balance of the vagina.
  • Recent or current use of antibiotics:
    WHY: Antibiotics kill off beneficial bacteria that prevent the overgrowth of yeast in the vagina.
  • Poorly controlled blood sugar in diabetes:
    WHY: The increase in sugar can cause yeast to overgrow, particularly in the vaginal area.
  • Weak immune system:
    WHY: Unable to fight off opportunistic infections, a yeast infection will grow unchecked.
  • Vaginal douching
    WHY: It upsets the natural balance of bacteria in the

If you have a yeast infection, you may experience one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Vaginal itching
  • Burning during sex or while urinating
  • Vaginal pain
  • Swollen or red vulva
  • Thick, white, odour-free vaginal discharge resembling cottage cheese
  • Watery vaginal discharge

Although you may never determine the exact cause of a yeast infection, there are some things you can do that may minimize your chance of getting one. Wear cotton underwear (as opposed to synthetic) and loose clothing; quickly change out of wet clothes or bathing suits; avoid vaginal douches and deodorants (in the area); avoid hot tubs and very hot baths; avoid scented hygiene products: scented bubble bath, scented pads, and scented tampons.

Vaginal Bacterial Infections

About 66% of women who self-diagnose a vaginal yeast infection are wrong and are therefore treating the infection incorrectly. (Ferris DG, Nyirjesy P, Sobel JD, et al. Over-the-counter antifungal drug misuse associated with patient-diagnosed vulvovaginal candidiasis.) Although some vaginal infections may display similar symptoms, when it comes time to correctly treat the infection and get fast relief, it is important to distinguish between a vaginal yeast infection and a bacterial infection.

Bacterial vaginosis (BV) can affect women of any age but is most common in women during their reproductive years. A bacterial infection occurs when harmful bacteria outnumber the good bacteria that are normally found in a woman’s vagina. While not necessarily harmful in itself, women who have BV are at increased risk for more serious infections, like human papillomavirus (HPV), herpes simplex virus, and HIV. BV is actually the most common cause of bacterial discharge and odour and many things can contribute to it:

  • Vaginal douching
    WHY: Douching upsets the natural balance of the vagina, can lead to an overgrowth of anaerobic bacteria, and cause bacterial vaginosis. Since the vagina is self-cleaning, douching isn’t necessary.
  • Natural lack of lactobacilli (good) bacteria
    WHY: If there are too many anaerobic bacteria, they upset the natural balance of microorganisms in your vagina and cause bacterial vaginosis.
  • Having new or multiple sex partners
    WHY: Intercourse and/or sex toys can introduce bacteria into the vagina’s ecosystem. This disruption may be enough to trigger an infection.

Bacterial vaginosis (BV) may or may not be accompanied by symptoms. It is a bacterial overgrowth condition that can cause causes:

  • Increased watery vaginal discharge
  • Gray, white, or green vaginal discharge
  • A “fishy” odour
  • Burning during urination
  • Vaginal itching

Although the symptoms are similar to yeast infections, not all bacterial infections can be treated with over-the-counter medications.

VagiSense® is a non-prescription home vaginal infection screening test that helps identify if your vaginal symptoms are more likely caused by a bacterial or parasitic infection so that you know what steps to take next.

Knowing this, you can then decide to treat the symptoms with over-the-counter medication or if an appointment with a healthcare professional is more appropriate.

 How does Vagisense screening test work?

The screening test reacts to vaginal discharge and gives an answer based on vaginal pH. A healthy vaginal pH level is between 3.8 and 4.5 (unless you are prepubescent or post menopausal), which is moderately acidic . A moderately acidic vaginal environment is protective and creates a barrier that prevents unhealthy bacteria and yeast from multiplying too quickly, causing an infection. A high vaginal pH level (above 4.5) provides a perfect environment for unhealthy bacteria to grow and puts you at risk for BV.

Using the discreet swab, you can find out within 10 seconds whether your symptoms are more likely caused by a vaginal yeast infection or by a bacterial or parasitic infection. Gently swab your vagina with VagiSense and watch to see if its yellow tip changes colour after making contact with your secretions.

VagiSense changes colour (to blue or green) when the acidity of the vaginal discharge is abnormal (pH level is elevated or the vaginal discharge is “watery”). “Watery” discharge and elevated vaginal pH levels are known to accompany bacterial and parasitic infections.

Positive result: After 10 seconds, if any part of the VagiSense tip is stained blue or green, your vaginal acidity is abnormal, and the risk of having a bacterial/parasitic infection is high. You should consult your healthcare professional.

Knowing something isn’t quite right isn’t the same thing as knowing what is wrong. And now, within 10 seconds, you can know what is wrong, and know what to do next. Taking your health into your own hands is an excellent way to improve your health.

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