Bacterial vaginosis and yeast infections can be hard to differentiate because they share many of the same characteristics. Oftentimes bacterial vaginosis (also known as BV) is mistaken for a yeast infection because more women are familiar with the symptoms and signs of yeast infections, though BV is far more common of the two vaginal health issues.
BV and yeast infections are two separate infections and because of this they are often treated improperly. Vaginitis is a general term for a host of vaginal issues, but usually most of the vaginal issues have some of the same symptoms such as inflammation around the vaginal area, vaginal discharge of varying levels, itching and pain inside and around the vagina.
So what is the Difference Between BV and Yeast Infections?
- Gray or white vaginal discharge
- An abnormal increase in discharge
- A strong fishy odor, especially after intercourse
- Thick curd like vaginal discharge
- Burning Sensation
Though they can sometimes overlap, the symptoms above generally indicate one vaginal issue from the other. However, sometimes it can be hard to tell which issue is the correct diagnosis so below you will find a little more detail on both vaginal issues.
What is Yeast Infection?
Yeast infections are a type of vaginitis that is also known as candidiasis. Yeast infections have symptoms that are generally limited to an inflammation of the vulva, moderate to extreme itchiness around the vaginal area and a thick curd like vaginal discharge. A yeast infection happens because a different type of yeast has been introduced to the vaginal area, causing the vagina to develop too much yeast. This infection is not an STD except when a sexual partner performs oral sex on someone who has a yeast infection, then the chances of the sexual partner developing a yeast infection around and inside the mouth is a possibility. Yeast infection can be treated by over the counter or prescription medications based upon its severity.
What is Bacterial Vaginosis?
Bacterial vaginosis occurs when a bacterium grows to an abnormally high level in the vaginal area. Roughly 60% of women who have BV are completely unaware of it as they have no symptoms to speak of, but when they do have symptoms they often include: a grey or white vaginal discharge, vaginal discharge in abnormally high levels and a strong fishy odor, especially after sex. Though BV is more common in women who are sexually active, it can affect all women regardless of sexual activity, age or race. The risks for bacterial vaginosis are much higher for certain types of behaviors or activities such as unprotected sex, new or multiple sex partners and using vaginal douches too often.
What to Do if You can’t Tell the Difference?
BV and yeast infections are very common for women and often have little to no symptoms or similar symptoms. Because of this it is important to be sure of which of the two different forms of vaginitis a woman has as complications can arise if left untreated or improperly treated. There are many over the counter treatments for both vaginal issues, but if a woman is unsure it is best to schedule an exam with a gynecologist to have it properly diagnosed.
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