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STDWatch
Hannah Kingston

Oct 23, 20227 min read

Bacterial Vaginosis vs Yeast Infection

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Bacterial vaginosis (BV) and yeast infections are quite similar in the fact that the symptoms are quite similar and both conditions may lead to a condition called vaginitis.

Bacterial vaginosis and yeast infections however are not the same condition, they have different causes and treatments.

Read on to learn more about bacterial vaginosis vs yeast infections, including similarities and differences.

Bacterial vaginosis vs. yeast infection

Similarities

  • Both bacterial vaginosis and yeast infections may lead to irregular vaginal discharge
  • Both bacterial vaginosis and yeast infections may lead to vaginal itching
  • Both bacterial vaginosis and yeast infections may lead to discomfort
  • Both bacterial vaginosis and yeast infections may lead to burning sensation during urination
  • Both bacterial vaginosis and yeast infections are the leading causes of bacterial vaginosis and yeast infections

**The symptoms of vaginitis include: **

  • Irregular vaginal discharge
  • Itching
  • Inflammation
  • Pain and/or burning
  • A foul smelling odour from the vagina

Due to the fact that bacterial vaginosis and yeast infections are the leading causes of vaginitis, it can be easy to confuse one with the other.

One of the leading differences between bacterial vaginosis and yeast infections is that bacterial vaginosis is caused by an overgrowth of a bacteria called Gardnerella vaginalis. Yeast infections are caused by the overgrowth of a fungus called Candida albicans.

Differences

  • Bacterial vaginosis may lead to a foul smelling odour, yeast infections do not produce any odours. In some cases, you may notice an acid , yeasty smell during yeast infections.
  • Bacterial vaginosis generally doesn't cause pain in the vagina, yeast infections are more likely to cause actual pain
  • Bacterial vaginosis generally doesn't lead to pain during sex, yeast infections are more likely to cause pain during sex
  • Bacterial vaginosis usually does not lead to pain or inflammation in and around the vagina. Yeast infections may cause both pain and inflammation in and around the vagina

Symptoms of bacterial vaginosis

Many women will not experience the signs or symptoms of bacterial vaginosis. When they do occur, the most common symptoms of bacterial vaginosis include:

  • Foul, "fishy" smelling vaginal odour
  • Irregular consistency of discharge, often it is much thinner
  • Irregular coloured discharge, often it is grey, white or green
  • Itching
  • Burning during urination

symptoms-of-bacterial-vaginosis

Symptoms of a yeast infection

Yeast infections are also known as vaginal candidiasis, 3 in 4 women will experience a yeast infection at some point in their lives. It is more common to experience symptoms of a yeast infection than it is to experience symptoms of bacterial vaginosis.

Some of the most common symptoms of a yeast infection include:

  • Irregular discharge that is thick, white, and resembles cottage cheese
  • Redness in the vagina and vulva
  • Inflammation of the vagina and vulva
  • Itching in and around the vagina and vulva
  • A burning sensation during sex and urination
  • Vaginal pain
  • Vaginal rash

symptoms-of-a-yeast-infection

An untreated yeast infection may lead to worsening symptoms which may include:

  • More intensive redness and swelling of the vagina and vulva
  • Intense irritation that may lead to tears and cracks in the vagina and vulva

Causes of bacterial vaginosis

Bacterial vaginosis is often caused by an imbalance in the normal bacterial flora that lives in the vagina. Under normal circumstances, a helpful bacteria called Lactobacillus is the most significant component of the microflora. In some cases, there is an imbalance that lowers the amount of Lactobacillus inside the vagina, allowing Gardnerella vaginalis to grow in large amounts and cause bacterial vaginosis.

There are some things that may lead to a higher risk of this over-growth of bacteria including:

  • Cleaning the vagina with irritating cleaners or lotions
  • Having unprotected sex
  • Smoking tobacco products
  • Having too little lactobacillus in the vagina
  • Having unprotected sex with multiple sexual partners

Causes of a yeast infection

Yeast infections are caused by an overgrowth of fungus in the vagina, this fungus is called candida albicans.

The vagina contains both bacteria and fungus. Certain bacteria (lactobacillus) act to prevent an overgrowth of yeast. When the bacterial/fungal balance becomes imbalanced or candida albicans penetrates vaginal tissue, it may lead to the signs and symptoms of a yeast infection.

Some of the most common causes of a yeast infection include:

  • Antibiotics that cause an imbalance in natural vaginal flora
  • Uncontrolled diabetes
  • Pregnancy
  • An impaired immune system
  • Taking oral contraceptives especially those that increase estrogen

Treatment for bacterial vaginosis

Treatment for bacterial vaginosis involves a course of anti-biotics to balance the level of bacteria in the body.

Treatment for yeast infections

The treatment for uncomplicated yeast infections is a 1-3 day treatment that includes an over-the-counter anti-fungal cream or an anti-fungal suppository.

Complicated yeast infections require more intensive treatment that includes:

  • A 14-day cream, ointment, tablet, or suppository vaginal treatment
  • Two or three doses of fluconazole (Diflucan)
  • Long-term prescription of fluconazole taken once a week for 6 weeks or long-term use of a topical antifungal medication

References


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