What is yeast infection?
Vaginal yeast infections, also called vaginal candidiasis, are prevalent in women. It is estimated that 75% of women will have at least one yeast infection in their lifetime. A vaginal yeast infection is a fungal infection that causes irritation, discharge, and intense itchiness of the vagina and the vulva — the tissues at the vaginal opening. Although it is very common to treat yeast infections, the symptoms of yeast infections are similar to other, more serious conditions, including sexually transmitted infections and bacterial vaginosis (bacterial overgrowth in the vagina). Therefore an accurate diagnosis is important before you use any over-the-counter treatment products.
What is urinary tract infections or UTI?
A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection in any part of your urinary system — your kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra. It is one of the most common infections in humans. Women tend to get urinary tract infections more often than men because bacteria can reach the bladder more easily in women. Women’s urethra (the opening to your urinary tract) is shorter than men’s and is located near the rectum. A simple UTI can be treated with a short course of antibiotic meds, but a UTI complication can lead to more serious consequences.
The most common UTIs occur mainly in women and affect the bladder and urethra:
Infection of the bladder (cystitis) is usually caused by Escherichia coli (E. coli), a type of bacteria commonly found in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. However, sometimes other bacteria are responsible. Sexual intercourse may lead to cystitis, but you don't have to be sexually active to develop it. All women are at risk of cystitis because of their anatomy — specifically, the short distance from the urethra to the anus and the urethral opening to the bladder.
Urinary tract infections are common in women, and many women experience more than one infection during their lifetimes.
Infection of the urethra (urethritis) can occur when GI bacteria spread from the anus to the urethra. Also, because the female urethra is close to the vagina, sexually transmitted infections, such as herpes, gonorrhea, chlamydia, and mycoplasma, can cause urethritis.
What is bacterial vaginosis or BV?
Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is an infection of the vagina that happens when there are too many certain bacteria in the vagina. This changes the normal balance of bacteria in the vagina. A type of bacteria called lactobacillus keeps your vagina slightly acidic, so bad bacteria don't grow well. If your lactobacillus levels drop, more bad bacteria move in, and you get BV. Women in their reproductive years are most likely to get bacterial vaginosis, but it can affect women of any age. The cause isn't completely understood, but certain activities, such as unprotected sex or frequent douching, increase your risk.
About half of the time, women with BV have no symptoms. But if a symptom develops, it can be:
Burning feeling when you pee
Fishy smell that gets stronger after sex
BV is not the same as a yeast infection. Bacterial vaginosis has been tied to a higher risk of other health problems, so it is crucial to take a diagnosis and get early treatment.
Thin white, gray, or green discharge