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A Guide to the Symptoms of Vaginal Infections

Medically reviewed by Mary Rani Cadiz, MD · Obstetrics and Gynecology

Written by Nikita Bhalla · Updated Jul 02, 2022

    A Guide to the Symptoms of Vaginal Infections

    Vaginal infections, also known as vaginitis, are common in women. They cause infection or inflammation in the vagina. When you have an infection or inflammation in the vagina and vulva, it is called vulvovaginitis. It is a common condition and every woman experiences it at some point in life. The symptoms of vaginal infections vary per person and it also depends on its cause and severity.

    Common symptoms of vaginal infections include:

  • Vaginal discharge
  • Strong odor from the discharge
  • Burning sensation in the vaginal area
  • Vaginal itchiness
  • The harsh chemicals in the soaps, cleansers, and clothing might trigger the symptoms of vaginal infections. It might be confusing and stressful to figure out the cause and symptoms. So it is advised to seek your doctor’s help and begin the correct treatment. Read on to know the different types and symptoms of vaginal infections.

    Types and Symptoms of Vaginal Infections

    symptoms of vaginal infections

    Yeast infection

    A vaginal yeast infection is a common condition that causes swelling and irritation in the vagina. The condition is also called candidiasis. Common symptoms of vaginal infection include:

    • itching
    • rashes
    • redness
    • swelling of the vagina
    • vaginal discharge

    The fungus Candida albicans is the major cause of yeast infection. When there’s a change in the body, it affects the way this pathogen works. This can lead to the excess growth of yeast, causing a yeast infection. Other factors that can lead to yeast infections include pregnancy, hormonal imbalance, stress, poor lifestyle, diabetes, and inadequate sleep.

    To diagnose a yeast infection your doctor may ask your symptoms, medical history, and your history of vaginal infection. Pelvic examination is necessary to visualize the characteristic cottage cheese-like vaginal discharge. Treating yeast infection will entail antifungal medications like topical ointments and oral tablets.

    You may be able to avoid yeast infection with the help of a healthy diet, wearing comfortable clothes, and maintaining normal blood sugar levels.

    Bacterial Vaginosis

    Lactobacillus is a type of bacterium that keeps your vagina acidic to prevent the growth of bad bacteria. When the levels of lactobacilli go down, the bad bacteria overpopulate the area and cause bacterial vaginosis.

    The condition is common and even if it does not cause any medical problems, it can cause issues if you are pregnant or planning pregnancy. In most cases, women with bacterial vaginosis do not experience any symptoms.

    The common symptoms of bacterial vaginosis include burning sensation while passing urine, vaginal itching, and discharge that is gray or off-white in color.

    To prevent the infection, avoid over cleansing the perineal area with harsh soaps or feminine wash. Douching is not also advised. Use of tampons can sometimes trigger vaginal irritation and cause overgrowth of bad bacteria if not changed frequently.

    It is important to talk to your doctor and get proper treatment for bacterial vaginosis. Your doctor will do pelvic examination and ask you about your symptoms. The doctor may even ask you to do certain tests to check the pH level of your vagina. Samples of your discharge may also be taken.


    Trichomoniasis is a common infection that is sexually transmitted. The infection is caused by trichomonas vaginalis, an organism that travels from an individual to another via genitals during sexual activities.

    It is said that the incubation period for the infection to become apparent is between 4 to 28 days. You are at the risk of having trichomoniasis if you have more than one sexual partner, have a history of vaginal infections, and had sexual activities without proper precautions.

    The symptoms of trichomoniasis in women include:

    • Redness in the vaginal area
    • Pain while passing the urine
    • Severe pain during sexual activities
    • Vaginal discharge that is yellow, green, or gray in color.

    Inform your doctor if you experience any of the symptoms of trichomoniasis.

    Symptoms of the infection in men include a discharge from the penis, burning sensation while peeing or after ejaculation, and itchiness inside the penis. To prevent the infection, avoid sexual activity as much as possible, even if you happen to have sex use precautionary measures.

    To diagnose the condition, inform your doctor about the symptoms you experience. In some cases, your doctor may even recommend you to perform tests such as cell cultures, antigen tests, etc.

    Non-infectious Vaginitis

    Non-infectious vaginitis is a condition that causes vaginal irritation.

    The symptoms occur without any infection being present. The common symptoms of non-infectious vaginitis include burning sensation, itchiness, and vaginal discharge. It is mainly caused because of allergies or an imbalance in the hormones. The common cause of non-infectious vaginitis is your skin’s sensitivity to soaps, detergents, and other skincare products.

    To diagnose the condition, your doctor may ask the symptoms you have, your medical history, age, and physical health. To treat non-infectious vaginitis, your doctor may prescribe you creams and tablets that will help to restore lubrication and prevent vaginal irritation, redness, and itchiness.

    Tips to prevent vaginal infections

    • Follow proper hygiene. Use soaps and cleansers that are not laden with harmful chemicals. Use body care products that are fragrance-free. You can even talk to your doctor to prescribe your skincare products.
    • Wear clothes that are breathable and soft. Avoid tight-fitting clothes.
    • Always use condoms to prevent STDs.
    • Monitor your symptoms. Take note of the color, smell, and texture of the vaginal discharge. Your doctor may provide tips and prescribe medications to avoid infections.
    • If you experience any symptoms of vaginal infections, do not try self-medication. Consult your doctor to share the symptoms of your experience. Your doctor will do a physical examination and diagnose the cause of the infection. Based on their findings, your doctor may recommend treatments. Tell your doctor if your symptoms do not improve or worsen after taking the medications.

    Learn more about preventing and managing vaginitis, here.


    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Medically reviewed by

    Mary Rani Cadiz, MD

    Obstetrics and Gynecology

    Written by Nikita Bhalla · Updated Jul 02, 2022

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