Types of Vaginal Infections: Vaginal Yeast Infection, Causes and Treatment

Vaginal infections and vaginitis, or inflammation of the vagina, are very common so much so that most women will experience one or the other, and likely both, during their lifetime. Symptoms of either a vaginal infection or vaginitis may include vaginal discharge, itching, burning, pain, and a strong odor. While some vaginal infections are caused by sexually transmitted diseases, other very common ones are not.

Some women seem to be more prone to vaginal infections than others for reasons that are not entirely obvious, says Gregory R. Moore, MD, MPH, an obstetrician-gynecologist at Stamps Health Services at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta.

Yeast Infection: The most common type of vaginitis, a yeast infection is caused by one of the many types of fungus known as candida. According to Dr. Krause, “There are many species of yeast, or candida — Candida albicans is the most common.”

Normally, candida lives harmlessly in your body in small numbers, including in the vagina. But under certain conditions, an overgrowth of candida can occur, causing a vaginal infection.

Those conditions might include hormone level changes due to pregnancy, birth control pills, or menstruation. Some other conditions that raise the risk of vaginal yeast infections include having frequent or chronic high blood sugar and having lowered immunity because of a medical condition such as HIV or AIDS.

Symptoms of a vaginal yeast infection include a thick, white discharge that some women describe as resembling cottage cheese. Yeast infections also can cause vaginal itching and redness of the vulva (the lips of the external female genital area) and vagina.

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Treatment for Vaginal Infections
All of these conditions can be treated, but it’s important to know which type of infection or other condition you have so it can be treated correctly.

“Yeast medication is available over the counter if you are certain that it is a yeast infection,” Krause says, but “sometimes women think they have a yeast infection and it is actually something else. If you try over-the-counter medications and they don’t work, you should see a doctor.” (everyday health)

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