Vaginitis, which is defined as an irritation of the vagina and vulvar area, comes in many forms. A yeast infection is actually a form of vaginitis, but there are other forms as well. These include bacterial vaginitis and trichomoniasis (a sexually transmitted disease).
Women who have a vaginal yeast infection usual experience intense itching, redness, irritation, and a tell-tale discharge. The discharge can be rather thin but it is white with a cottage cheese type consistency.
Women who have bacterial vaginitis may also have itching, redness, and burning or irritation. They may also have a discharge, but it is often a grey color and has more of an odor than yeast infection discharge.
As you can see, the symptoms of the two are very similar. Because of this, a lot of women tend to assume they have a vaginal yeast infection. They run to the store, grab the first box of OTC treatment off the shelf, and start their own treatments.
This can be particularly dangerous if you’ve never had any sort of vaginitis before. Not knowing the difference between the two conditions can lead you to incorrectly treat yourself. The longer you suffer with the wrong treatment, the worse your condition becomes (and, as such, the harder to treat it becomes).
If you’ve never had a vaginal yeast infection before, but think you may have one, call your doctor, naturopath, or even a local clinic like Planned Parenthood. A quick exam or a swab of your vaginal fluids will be all you need for a correct diagnosis.
A lot of women are familiar with their yeast infection symptom, and while I always recommend a quick check with a doctor, most women who have had one before will simply refuse to go. If you fall into this category, you should still tread carefully. If your vaginal yeast infection won’t clear up with regular OTC treatment, or if the symptoms are not quite what you “normally” experience, you should visit a doctor as well. You may have another form of vaginitis, or you may have a more severe Candida yeast overgrowth that needs to be addressed.