Vaginal yeast infection is classified under vaginitis, which is a blanket term for diseases that cause inflammation and infection in the vagina. It affects up to 75 percent of adult women1 and occurs when the yeast living in the vagina suddenly outnumber the good bacteria that keep it in check.2
The symptoms of vaginal yeast infection may be confused with other vaginitis due to similarities such as pain during urination and vaginal discharge. To determine the cause of the infection, a sample of the vaginal discharge is usually examined under various tests to rule out which microorganisms are responsible.
Treatment for yeast infection usually requires antifungal creams and vaginal suppositories. However, home remedies are effective as well. Rubbing apple cider vinegar on the vaginal rashes and consuming probiotic-rich foods may help provide relief.
A Vaginal Yeast Infection May Be Something Else Entirely
Be warned that vaginal yeast infection may be confused with other vaginal diseases. These include:
• Bacterial vaginosis: As the name implies, bacterial vaginosis is caused by an imbalance of bad bacteria over good bacteria.3 Clear indicators of this particular form of vaginitis include excessive vaginal discharge that is grayish white in color and a "fishy" odor that usually worsens after sexual intercourse.4
Other yeast infection-like symptoms such as itching and a burning feeling during urination may appear, but they are less common.5
The strain responsible for bacterial vaginosis is Gardnerella vaginalis.6 Medical experts aren't sure what causes the bacterial imbalance, but it is speculated that douching and antibiotic use contribute to the spread of Gardnerella vaginalis.7
The Mayo Clinic also links sexual activity to bacterial vaginosis, noting that it "occurs more often in women who have multiple sex partners or a new sex partner," and "more frequently in women who have sex with women."8
• Trichomoniasis: A sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by the parasite Trichomonas vaginalis, trichomoniasis is one of the most common STDs that is curable among sexually active women.9
Symptoms of trichomoniasis include a greenish-yellow vaginal discharge with a strong odor, painful urination, itching and discomfort during sexual intercourse, all of which may be confused with yeast infection.
Trichomoniasis should be treated immediately upon diagnosis. Untreated trichomoniasis among pregnant women may lead to premature rupture of the membranes protecting the baby, and early delivery.10
• Chlamydia: Another curable STD, chlamydia often exhibits symptoms similar to yeast infection like vaginal discharge, pain during intercourse and itching in and around the vagina. The infection can quickly spread to other people without them knowing it, because the symptoms usually take one to three weeks to appear.11
It usually takes about one to two weeks of treatment before the infection goes away. However, it's recommended that you undergo a test again after three months to make sure you're in the clear.12
Medical consultation is highly recommended once you experience common vaginitis symptoms. You may be embarrassed to speak with your doctor at first due to the intimate nature of the disease, but keep in mind that your health and safety are more important.