This article deals only with vaginitis caused by an infectious agent. Other non-infectious causes, including menopause or the use of irritant products, can also lead to vaginitis
Vaginal yeast infections are caused by an imbalance in the vaginal flora and a change in the vagina's pH level. When this happens, fungi usually present in the vagina (Candida albicans in 90% of cases) can multiply and cause infection.
Symptoms of vaginal yeast infections typically include a thick, white or yellowish discharge, accompanied by often severe itching or irritation.
A vaginal yeast infection is not the same as a urinary tract infection.
As the name suggests, bacterial vaginosis (or BV) is caused by bacteria that take advantage of an imbalance in the vaginal flora to multiply more than usual, causing an infection. These bacteria are naturally present in the vagina, and BV is not a sexually transmitted infection (STI).
Bacterial vaginosis causes a whitish-grey, foul-smelling discharge (often described as a fishy odour), and can sometimes be accompanied by mild itchiness.
Trichomoniasis, or trich, is a sexually transmitted infection but, contrary to other STIs, it is easily treatable.
It is caused by a microscopic parasite found beneath the foreskin of the penis or in vaginal discharge. Symptoms usually appear anywhere between 5 and 28 days after unprotected sexual intercourse.
Foul-smelling, yellowish or green frothy discharge is common with this type of vaginitis, as is itching.
Several factors can increase the risk of vaginal yeast infections by altering the vagina’s natural balance:
Vaginal yeast infections can be treated with over-the-counter (OTC) antifungal medications. These include vaginal tablets and suppositories (or ovules), creams, and single-dose oral tablets. If you opt for cream or suppositories, take them at bedtime for 1 to 7 consecutive days and continue use during your period. Panty liners are recommended throughout the course of treatment.
If symptoms persist even after taking OTC medications, you should see a doctor.
Sexual partners generally don’t need treatment, as yeast infections are rarely transmitted to men. However, if your partner experiences redness and itching around the head of his penis, he can apply an antifungal cream twice a day for 7 days.
Bacterial vaginosis and trichomoniasis both require a medical examination, as these conditions are treated with antibiotics that can only be acquired with a doctor's prescription.
In the case of trichomoniasis, it is important that sexual partners also be treated, even if they do not have any symptoms.
It is recommended you see a doctor to get a diagnosis if this is the first time you have experienced abnormal vaginal discharge.
Vaginal discharge that is foul smelling or that is accompanied by the symptoms of bacterial vaginosis or trichomoniasis described above always requires a medical consultation, in order to obtain the appropriate prescription-only treatment.
In the case of a vaginal yeast infection, it is important to consult a doctor in the following cases:
To reduce the risk of vaginitis, avoid anything that may irritate the vagina or that can promote the growth of fungi and the spread of bacteria:
To reduce the risk of trichomoniasis, always practice safe sex.
It can be hard to tell the difference between the different types of vaginitis (yeast infection, bacterial vaginosis, or trichomoniasis) because their symptoms can be very similar. But it is important to be able to tell them apart since the appropriate treatment depends on the cause of the vaginitis.
VagiSense® is an over-the-counter test for vaginal infections that you can use at home. It can help you determine whether you need to see a health professional or if you can consider treating your symptoms with an over-the-counter medication.
With the help of a small swab that is gently inserted in the vagina, it is possible to know in only 10 seconds whether your vaginal symptoms are more likely to be caused by a yeast infection or by a bacterial or parasitic (trichomoniasis) infection.
The VagiSense® test detects whether there is a change in the acidity of your vaginal discharge, and the yellow swab tip changes colour (to blue or green) when the acidity level is abnormal.
After 10 seconds, if any part of the yellow VagiSense® swab tip is stained blue or green, it means your vaginal acidity is abnormal, and the risk of having a bacterial/parasitic infection is high. You should consult a healthcare professional, who can prescribe you the appropriate treatment.
If the VagiSense® tip is not stained after 10 seconds, the risk of having a bacterial or parasitic infection is low. You may have a yeast infection, in which case you may want to consider a non-prescription treatment.
You can use VagiSense® if you are of menstruating age and have any of the following symptoms:
To ensure valid results, VagiSense® should NOT be used in any of the following conditions:
If you are pregnant, consult your healthcare professional before using VagiSense®..
*Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations and instructions. Consult your healthcare professional for more information about this product.
The pharmacy services presented in this section are offered by pharmacist owners who are affiliated with PROXIM. The pharmacists are solely responsible for the professional activities carried out during the practice of pharmacy.
The information contained herein is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide complete information on the subject matter or to replace the advice of a health professional. This information does not constitute medical consultation, diagnosis or opinion and should not be interpreted as such. Please consult your health care provider if you have any questions about your health, medications or treatment.