Vaginal infections are a common condition, experienced by many women all around the world at one time or another. An infection is caused by a strain of bacteria, yeast, or protozoal organism, and is one of the most common reasons that women visit their doctors. There are numerous types of vaginal infections, but the symptoms are very similar for most.
The vaginal area is home to different types of organism, mostly lactobacillus acidophius, beneficial bacteria that also aids in digestion. There are enough types and amounts of organisms in the vaginal area to create a balance. An infection occurs when a new type of bacteria is introduced to the area, throwing off the balance and causing an infection.
The most common symptoms of a vaginal infection are burning, itching, redness, and an unpleasant odor. There may also be swelling. Another symptom is a change in discharge. Although women usually experience normal discharge throughout the course of their menstrual cycle, a vaginal infection can alter the color, texture, and amount of the secretions.
One of the most common types of vaginal infections is bacterial vaginosis, caused by Gardnerella vaginalis and other organisms in the vagina. The main symptom of this infection is a very strong odor, most noticeable after intercourse. Women may also notice an excess of watery discharge, either clear or white in color.
Candida vaginitis, or a yeast infection, is another type of infection. The symptoms of this infection include swelling, irritation, redness, itching, and changes in discharge. Thick, white discharge, or even no discharge at all, is common with yeast infections.
Trichomonas vaginitis, sometimes also known as "trich," is the third most common type of vaginal infection. The symptoms are very similar to bacterial vaginosis; an increased amount of discharge, possibly in a different color than normal, and some itching are normal signs. There may also be a noticeable smell associated with this infection.
The symptoms of a vaginal infection are aggravating, but easily relieved. A woman's doctor can prescribe an antibiotic which can quickly clear up the infection. There are also some treatments available over-the-counter at many drug and department stores. Because the symptoms of a vaginal infection could be the signs of something more serious, such as a sexually transmitted disease or an allergic reaction, it is important that a woman visits her doctor for evaluation before attempting to diagnose or treat an infection on her own.