Vaginitis is the clinical term for vaginal infections that produce symptoms such as vaginal discharge, itching and rashes. Next to bacterial vaginosis, yeast infection is the type of vaginitis a woman may most likely get.
In fact, it is speculated that at least 75 percent of all women will experience a case of yeast infection at least once in their lifetime.1
What Are the Characteristics of Yeast Infection?
As the name suggests, yeast infection is a vaginal disease caused by overgrowth of yeast, a type of fungi. The medical term for the disease is “candidiasis,” named after the yeast strain responsible for the infection, Candida albicans.
This fungi strain lives inside you and is even beneficial, helping digest your food and absorb nutrients.2 But when certain factors allow it to multiply unchecked, there’s a high chance an infection will occur.
One factor that can cause a yeast infection is the lack of probiotics due to frequent antibiotic use. As you continue with this type of treatment to eliminate harmful bacteria, your good bacteria become an unintended casualty as well.
Probiotics are important because they help keep the fungi levels controlled inside your vagina.3 To keep your probiotic levels up, it’s recommended you consume fermented foods and beverages, or consume a high-quality probiotic supplement.
Another factor that can influence the growth of yeast is uncontrolled diabetes. The main food source of yeast is sugar, so having a high blood sugar level will most likely increase your risk of a yeast infection, despite having normal probiotic levels.4
Women with type 2 diabetes have a higher risk of developing yeast infection, and it may even recur if your blood sugar isn’t maintained.5 If you have type 2 diabetes, a proper diet of nutritious food, minimized sugar intake and regular exercise may help decrease your risk of a yeast infection.
Strong indicators of a yeast infection include the presence of a vaginal discharge and itching in the vaginal area, plus a burning feeling during urination. If you’re sexually active, an additional symptom is pain during intercourse.6
The Main Difference Between Bacterial Vaginosis and Yeast Infection
Aside from the different microorganisms that cause vaginitis (yeast versus bacteria), bacterial vaginosis and yeast infection can be distinguished by the smell of the vaginal discharge.
In yeast infection, the odor of its discharge is virtually non-existent, but its consistency is typically described as something similar to cottage cheese.7 In contrast, the discharge produced by bacterial vaginosis is typically white or grey in color, and has a thin viscosity. It also has a strong, fishy smell that can be noticed right away.8
Knowing the difference between the discharges these two diseases can produce will help your doctor come up with an effective treatment right away.