Symptoms and Signs of Yeast Infection and Bacterial Vaginosis

Medical Author:
Medically Reviewed on 8/24/2021

Doctor's Notes on Yeast Infection and Bacterial Vaginosis

Two of the most common causes of vaginitis (inflammation of the vaginal area) are yeast infection and bacterial vaginosis:

  • Vaginal yeast infections caused by Candida albicans are most commonly responsible for vaginitis. Vaginal yeast infections occur when new yeast is introduced into the vaginal area or when there is an overgrowth of the yeast already present in the vagina. 
  • Bacterial vaginosis refers to an overgrowth of certain types of bacteria that are normally present in the vagina. 

Symptoms of both yeast infection and bacterial vaginosis include vaginal discharge:

  • In bacterial vaginosis, discharge is usually gray to white in color but can be of any color and there is an unpleasant odor. 
  • In yeast infection, discharge is usually odorless, thick and whitish, with a consistency similar to that of cottage cheese. 

Other symptoms yeast infections include itching in the vaginal or vulvar area, a burning sensation, and pain during intercourse or urination.

What Is the Treatment for Yeast Infection and Bacterial Vaginosis?

Topical, over-the-counter antifungal treatments are used to treat most yeast infections. These are usually administered for 1-3 days. Oral prescription antifungal medications are used to treat recurrent yeast infections or infections that do not respond to topical treatment. Some women who have recurrent yeast infections may receive maintenance treatment on a weekly or monthly basis.

Bacterial vaginosis is treated by antibiotics, either in topical form (as a cream or gel applied directly to the vagina) or in oral form.

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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.