Vaginal Infections: How to Detect a Vaginal Infection

Have you ever wondered how to detect if you have a vaginal infection? Well, you are not alone as this is a very common question that many women ask. Vaginal infection is a very common disease that affects tens of thousands of women annually. In fact, vaginal symptoms are one of the main reasons women visit their primary care physicians.

Facts about Normal Vaginal Discharge
All women have some form of vaginal discharge. This vaginal secretion or discharge is a normal part of your reproductive system and is usually slightly cloudy or clear, have a mild scent or odor, doesn’t itch or is accompanied by redness or swelling. A normal discharge is thin and clear around the time of ovulation or when you are sexually aroused. Otherwise your discharge will be thick and white or slightly yellow and resembles paste.

How do I know if I have a vaginal infection?
Vaginal infections have a wide range of symptoms. When you have a vaginal infection your normal vaginal discharge will change color (to be pinkish, grayish, yellow or greenish), smell different (fishy odor), become heavier with small lumps or curds like cottage cheese, or you may experience abnormal vaginal bleeding. A vaginal infection may also cause your normal discharge to be very watery or cause swelling, burning, itching or inflammation around the vagina. When you have an infection, you may get some or all of these symptoms.

What type of vaginal infection do I have?
Vaginal infections or vaginitis is very difficult to diagnose because it has many causes. Vaginal infections may or may not be a result of a sexually transmitted infection and can occur due to hormone changes, sexual intercourse, contraceptives, medication such as antibiotics, stress, vaginal medication and any other factor that may disturb the natural balance of the vagina. Although the symptoms are normally very similar when it comes to vaginal infections, you can use the differences in the color and smell of the discharge to determine the type of infection that you may have, but the only way to be sure is to visit your gynecologist or general practitioner.

The most common types of vaginal infections are Bacterial vaginosis, Vaginal yeast infection and Trichomoniasis.

Bacterial Vaginosis
Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is the bacterial vaginal infection that causes the fishy smelly discharge that is occasionally accompanied by itching outside the vagina and a burning sensation. With Bacterial Vaginosis the discharge is normally thin and grayish white and the scent and discharge is more evident after sexual intercourse. This infection normally occurs when there is an imbalance of the vagina’s natural bacteria and a lesser bacteria group is over grown.

Vaginal Yeast Infection
Most women will have a yeast infection at some point or another in their lifetime. As Candida albicans, the fungus that causes yeast infection is present in small amounts in the vagina. The most common symptom of vaginal yeast infection is itching around the vagina. Other symptoms include a cottage cheese like or slightly watery vaginal discharge, soreness, burning and pain during intercourse. All of which can be mild or severe.

Trichomoniasis is the most common vaginal infection that is caused by a sexually transmitted disease (STD) in women. Although the parasite can survive in a moist environment like on towels or clothing, and can be picked up from genital contact with such items, this vaginal infection is normally transmitted through sexual contact. The symptoms of this type of infection include foul-smelling, itchy, and foamy or frothy, yellow or gray-greenish discharge, itching around the vagina, pain during urination and intercourse and a foul odor.

Now that you know the symptoms of the most common vaginal infections you will be better able to detect when you have an infection.

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