Bacterial vaginosis vs yeast infection: similarities & differences

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Bacterial vaginosis vs yeast infection: similarities & differences

 

 

Written by Hannah Kingstonon August 18th, 2021

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 of bacterial vaginosis and yeast infections is that bacterial vaginosis is caused by a bacteria called Lactobacillus. Yeast infections are caused by the overgrowth of a fungus called candida

Differences 

  • Bacterial vaginosis may lead to a foul smelling odour, yeast infections do not produce any odours 
  • 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 experiencethe 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 either thick and white or watery
  • 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 

The simple causes of bacterial vaginosis is the overgrowth of bacteria called lactobacillus.

Lactobacillus is a good bacteria that lives in the vagina, however when there is an overgrowth of this bacteria in the vagina, it may lead to 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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