Vaginal Infections (cont.)
Vaginal Infection Symptoms
Vaginal discharge, itching, and burning are common symptoms of the various
forms of vaginitis. Although the symptoms of these infections can be very
similar, there are some differences to look for in the color and smell of the
Some vaginal discharge is quite common and normal for
women of childbearing age. Normally, cervical glands produce a clear mucous
secretion that drains downward, mixing with bacteria, discarded vaginal cells,
and Bartholin's gland secretions at the opening of the vagina. These substances
may (depending on how much mucus there is) turn the mucus a whitish color, and the discharge turns
yellowish when exposed to air. There are times throughout the menstrual cycle
that the cervical glands produce more mucus than others, depending on the amount
of estrogen produced. This is normal.
Sexual excitement and emotional stress have both been associated with a
normal vaginal discharge. This discharge is a clear, mucus-like secretion.
If your vaginal discharge is abnormal in color such as green, has a foul
smell, changes consistency, or is significantly increased or decreased in
amount, you may be developing a form of vaginitis.
- Bacterial vaginosis (BV) causes an abnormal vaginal discharge with an
unpleasant odor. Some women report a strong fishlike smell, especially after
intercourse. The discharge is usually white or gray, and it can be thin. You may
also have burning during urination or itching around the outside of the vagina,
or both. Some women with bacterial vaginosis have no symptoms at all.
- Yeast infections or candidiasis cause a thick, whitish-gray "cottage
cheese" type of vaginal discharge and may be itchy. You may have intense itching
in your genital area. Painful urination and intercourse are common. You may not
always have a vaginal discharge. Men with genital candidiasis may have an itchy
rash on the penis. Most male partners of women with yeast infection do not
experience any symptoms of the infection.
- Trichomoniasis causes a frothy vaginal discharge that may be yellow-green
or gray, itching and irritation of the genitals, burning with urination
(sometimes confused with a urinary tract infection), discomfort during
intercourse, and a foul smell. Because trichomoniasis is a sexually-transmitted
disease, symptoms may appear within 4-20 days after exposure. Men rarely have
symptoms, but if they do, they may have a thin, whitish discharge from the penis
and painful or difficult urination.
- Pain itself is not a frequent symptom of vaginal infections (except for the itching) and should
prompt you to see your health care practitioner.
- If you have a condition called vulvodynia, you may have burning, stinging,
irritation, or rawness of your genitalia but no infection or skin disease of the
vulva or vagina. You
may have pain, off and on. This is a different condition that requires further
management with your health care practitioner.
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