You Need to Understand About Vaginal Infections

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Sometimes a vaginal infection may not present any symptoms. But other times, common symptoms of an infection include itching, changes in color or amount of discharge, and pain during urination.

Vaginitis refers to a few different conditions that can cause infection or inflammation of your vagina. The similar umbrella term vulvovaginitis describes inflammation of both your vagina and your vulva, the external part of your genitals.

Vaginal infections can have plenty of different causes, and they’re fairly common. In fact, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says up to a third of people with vaginas will develop vaginitis at some point in life.

These infections can happen at any time, but they’re most common during your reproductive years, or your late teens to early 40s.

You can develop a vaginal infection without having penetrative sex, or any other type of sex. In other words, vaginitis is not the same as a sexually transmitted infection (STI), though certain types of sexual activity can sometimes factor in — more details on that below.

Read on to learn more about the main types of vaginitis, plus their symptoms, causes, and tips for getting treatment and relief.

Symptoms
Vaginal infections don’t always cause noticeable symptoms.

If you do develop symptoms, you’ll likely notice some of these common ones:
vaginal itching and burning
vaginal soreness and discomfort
inflamed, flushed, or swollen skin around your vagina and vulva
a change in the amount of vaginal discharge
a change in the color of vaginal discharge
pain or burning during urination
pain during penetrative vaginal sex
vaginal bleeding or spotting

You might have just one or a few of the symptoms listed above. If your symptoms don’t go away within a few days, or if they get worse, it’s important to connect with a healthcare professional to get a diagnosis and treatment.

You might also notice some of these symptoms, especially a painful or burning sensation while urinating, if you have a urinary tract infection (UTI). Here’s how to recognize a UTI.

Types of vaginal infections
Vaginal infections share a lot of the same symptoms, which can make it harder to recognize exactly what’s going on.

That said, each type of infection does involve a few unique symptoms:

Bacterial vaginosis (BV). BV often causes a thin grayish-white, greenish, or yellow discharge. This discharge can have a fish-like odor that tends to become stronger after penetrative vaginal sex. You may not notice much itching.
Yeast infections. These commonly involve vaginal and vulval itching, soreness, and burning. With yeast infections, you might also notice swelling in the labia, or the folds of skin on the outside of your vagina. Any discharge will usually be white and lumpy, with a texture that some say resembles cottage cheese.

You might have just one or a few of the symptoms listed above. If your symptoms don’t go away within a few days, or if they get worse, it’s important to connect with a healthcare professional to get a diagnosis and treatment.

You might also notice some of these symptoms, especially a painful or burning sensation while urinating, if you have a urinary tract infection (UTI). Here’s how to recognize a UTI.

Types of vaginal infections
Vaginal infections share a lot of the same symptoms, which can make it harder to recognize exactly what’s going on.

That said, each type of infection does involve a few unique symptoms:
Bacterial vaginosis (BV). BV often causes a thin grayish-white, greenish, or yellow discharge. This discharge can have a fish-like odor that tends to become stronger after penetrative vaginal sex. You may not notice much itching.
Yeast infections. These commonly involve vaginal and vulval itching, soreness, and burning. With yeast infections, you might also notice swelling in the labia, or the folds of skin on the outside of your vagina. Any discharge will usually be white and lumpy, with a texture that some say resembles cottage cheese.

 

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