There are many different types of vaginal infections, but some are more common than others. Here is a guide to the five most common vaginal infections, including their symptoms and how to treat them, from your team of experts at A Woman's Place in Fort Collins.
Your Guide to Common Vaginal Infections
Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is an infection of the vagina caused by an overgrowth of bacteria that are normal inhabitants there. It's the most prevalent form of vaginal infection. BV affects around 50% of people who get it without showing any symptoms, but if you do, you'll generally have a thin grey or white, fishy-smelling vaginal discharge. You generally won't experience any pain, itching, or discomfort as a result of this infection.
When the typical conditions of your vagina change, BV can develop. It isn't a sexually transmitted disease (STD), but being sexually active – especially if you've recently changed partners – may raise your risk. Smoking, using feminine hygiene products like douches and deodorants, and having the contraceptive copper IUD (intrauterine device) are additional risk factors.
BV can go away on its own, although it may return. To help get rid of it, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics. These are usually tablets that you take by mouth or a gel or cream that you apply to your vagina.
Chlamydia is one of the most commonly reported STIs in the USA, and it's caused by a certain type of bacteria. When you have chlamydia, you may or may not experience any symptoms, although if you do, you might notice a lot more vaginal discharge than usual, bleeding between your periods or after sex, and pain during sex or when urinating.
Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted bacterial infection that, if not treated, can lead to serious problems including infertility, chronic pelvic pain from pelvic inflammatory disease, and difficulties during pregnancy. Fortunately, antibiotics are highly effective in treating chlamydia. If you have chlamydia, you'll be directed to a sexual health clinic like A Woman's Place. If necessary, we'll help organize contacting your present or past partners, who will need to be tested and treated if an infection was detected.
Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted infection caused by the herpes simplex virus. Not everyone with genital herpes has symptoms, but it can cause painful blisters around your genital area. You may also feel unwell with a headache and fever.
If you are experiencing pain and blisters due to genital herpes, your doctor can give you advice on how to ease the symptoms. This includes cleaning the affected area with plain water or saltwater and applying petroleum jelly or a mild anesthetic gel. They may also advise treatment with antiviral medication to help clear the blisters.
Although the blisters will heal, the herpes virus cannot be eradicated once it has entered your system. Once you've been infected, the virus stays in your body indefinitely. If the virus is reactivated, your symptoms may flare up again; however, they are rarely as terrible when they do so. Illness, tension, smoking, and drinking alcohol may trigger a flare-up.
Genital warts are a type of sexually transmitted infection (STI) that is spread through sexual contact. They manifest as tiny growths on or around your vulva, cervix, vagina, or anus, and can be itchy and painful. Genital warts are one of the most prevalent STIs, but rates have been declining because of the vaccine against HPV given to children in their early teens.
Warts may go away on their own, although this can take a long time and be unpleasant. Your doctor may be able to give you a formula or ointment to apply at home to remove them. Cryotherapy (freezing off your warts), an excision (cutting out warts), and electrocautery, which utilizes a heated electrode, are just a few examples of more specialized therapy you may require from time to time. Although treatments help to remove warts, they can’t get rid of the virus itself.
Gonorrhea is an infection caused by bacteria. You may not have any symptoms, but if you do, they will usually show up within 10 days of getting infected. You might have more vaginal discharge than normal, and pain around your lower abdomen. It might also hurt when you urinate, and you may experience bleeding between your periods.
Gonorrhea can lead to a variety of serious problems if left untreated, including infertility and chronic pelvic pain from pelvic inflammatory disease. Antibiotics are used to treat gonorrhea. For treatment, you'll most often need to visit a sexual health clinic like A Woman's Place. We can assist with identifying recent or past sexual partners who will likewise need to be tested and treated.
Vaginal thrush is a yeast infection caused by the fungus candida. It's very common, and most women will get it at some point in their lives. Symptoms include vaginal discharge that is thick, white, and cheese-like, itchiness and burning around your vagina, and pain when you urinate or have sex.
Thrush can be treated with a cream, vaginal tablet, or oral pill. It's important to finish all of the medication, even if your symptoms clear up before you've finished it, to ensure that the infection is completely cleared. If you are pregnant, thrush can be treated with an oral pill.
There are some things that may make you more likely to get vaginal thrush, like if you're pregnant, have diabetes, or are taking some types of antibiotics. There is also evidence that using certain hygiene products around your genital area, wearing tight-fitting clothing, or having sex may trigger thrush or make symptoms worse.
Trichomoniasis is a sexually transmitted infection that is caused by a parasite called Trichomonas vaginalis. Up to half of the people with trichomoniasis don't have any symptoms. If you do, you’ll probably have a yellow or white, foul-smelling, and possibly frothy vaginal discharge. You may have vaginal itching, soreness, or redness, and pain during sex.
Trichomoniasis is treated with antibiotics. It's important that both you and your sexual partner(s) are treated even if you don't have any symptoms, as the infection can be passed back and forth. You should also avoid having sex until you and your partner(s) have been treated and cleared.
What is the Typical Duration of a Vaginal Infection?
The time it takes for an infection to go away is determined by the sort of vaginal infection you have and how quickly you get treatment. Bacterial vaginosis, trichomoniasis, and chlamydia are examples of bacterial infections that may be treated with antibiotics. You'll generally be given a seven-day course of antibiotics to treat these types of infections, although you may need further rounds of treatment in some cases.
A cream or pessary is used to treat thrush, which involves putting a tablet (usually one) in your vagina for up to three days. The symptoms might take weeks to go away.
Herpes outbreaks can be present for up to three or four weeks without treatment, but antiviral therapy may help to alleviate symptoms sooner. Genital warts might take a few weeks, if not months, to go away with medicine.
Do you believe you may be suffering from a vaginal infection? Schedule an appointment with A Woman's Place in Fort Collins for a consultation. We can help you to determine the cause of your infection and provide the necessary treatment.