What’s the difference between a yeast infection and bacterial vaginosis?

Life is all about striking the right balance.  The vagina is a place where having the right balance is also very important.  Generally, the vagina has an acidic pH around 4 which allows certain types of bacteria to thrive. When that balance is exacerbated by external factors (stress, chemicals, medication, etc.) it can allow for yeast infection or bacterial vaginosis to develop.

Yeast infections occur when a type of yeast, Candida, overgrows and disrupts the vagina’s natural pH balance.  With yeast infections, you might notice white, cottage cheese appearing discharge.  These symptoms are usually accompanied by burning and/or itching in the vagina or vulva.  Multiple infections may indicate the presence of an underlying disease such as diabetes.

Bacterial vaginosis is the most common type of vaginal infection.  It is caused by an imbalance of “good” and “bad” bacteria leading to sometimes a yellow/grayish-white, fishy smelling discharge.   With bacterial vaginosis, the vaginal pH is generally elevated.   Rarely, is bacterial vaginosis associated with itching.

The treatments for yeast infection and bacterial vaginosis are very different so it very important that they are properly diagnosed in order for the right therapy to be administered.

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