What is the Difference between a Yeast Infection and Bacterial Vaginosis?

Did someone say vaginal infections? Ugh, talk about no fun! Unfortunately, vaginal infections are a fact of life that most women will experience some time or another. Even with such common occurrences, we often make wrong assumptions and purchase products we do not actually need due to a lack of knowledge. The problem is, no one teaches us the facts! Well, no worries ladies.The RepHreshing Truth is here to empower you with the truth about vaginal infections. We are finally going to answer your burning question: What is the difference between a Yeast Infection and Bacterial Infection or Bacterial Vaginosis (BV)?

Yeast Infection: What You Think You Have

Have you ever noticed vaginal odour, itching, burning or discharge and immediately jumped to the conclusion that you have a Yeast Infection? We all have! Before you run to the store to pick up some quick fix medicine, you should know that Yeast Infections are actually the SECOND leading type of vaginal infections, accounting for 29% of all vaginal infections. Many women commonly mistake other vaginal infections for Yeast Infections, believing that it is the most common type.

Vaginal Yeast Infections are caused when there is an overgrowth of yeast, a fungus (ew!) that lives in the vagina. Typically, beneficial vaginal bacteria like Lactobacillus help keep other organisms (like the yeast) under control. But, when the beneficial bacteria cannot keep up and yeast overgrows, you can get a yeast infection. So how do you know if it is a Yeast Infection? Yeast Infections are usually signified by itching and burning in the vagina and around the vulva. A white vaginal discharge that may look like cottage cheese and may be odourless or have a yeasty smell (like bread or beer).

Bacterial Vaginosis: The Most Common Type of Vaginal Infection

If Yeast Infections are the second most common vaginal infection, what is the first? You guessed it, Bacterial Vaginosis (BV). BV is caused when there is too much bad (pathogenic) bacteria. Again, typically, beneficial vaginal bacteria help keep bad bacteria under control. But, when the beneficial bacteria cannot keep up and bad bacteria overgrow, you can get a bacterial infection, or Bacterial Vaginosis (BV). Bacterial Vaginosis is also accompanied by unbalanced pH because the bad bacteria that cause this infection flourish in elevated pH, while beneficial bacteria thrive in a healthy pH environment.

Signs of Bacterial Vaginosis generally include a grayish white vaginal discharge, a bothersome "fishy odour" and elevated pH. Many women describe the discharge as yogurt-like or pasty. Women may also experience vaginal itching and redness as a result of BV.

Make sure you know which type of infection you have BEFORE treating it. Yeast infection treatments will not help a bacterial infection and may further irritate this uncomfortable condition.

Importance of Vaginal pH & Beneficial Bacteria

An important part of keeping everything in balance is the vaginal pH. In healthy women, vaginal pH is typically 3.5 to 4.5. Studies show that vaginal issues often occur when vaginal pH is unbalanced. Healthy pH helps beneficial bacteria to thrive so that it can do its job maintaining vaginal health.

When pH becomes elevated, the environment shifts in favor of the pathogenic bacteria. This can allow pathogenic bacteria to cause vaginal odour, discomfort and even infection. Elevated pH is one of the key factors doctors look for when diagnosing vaginal infections. Maintaining healthy vaginal pH within the healthy range can help reduce risk of vaginal issues.

Unfortunately, elevated vaginal pH can be caused by a number of things including your period, because blood has a pH of 7.4, sexual intercourse (pH of semen is 7.1 to 8), some hygiene products (even "pH-balanced" feminine washes have a pH of 5.5 or higher). The hormone fluctuations that women experience each month are also associated with elevated pH.

What to do if you Think you Have a Vaginal Infection

If you think you have a vaginal infection, your best bet is to see your doctor. Most women opt for a visit to a gynecologist, but a primary care physician can also diagnose infections. Your doctor will do a pH test and assess your symptoms and may take a simple swab for examination under a microscope before providing a diagnosis. If you have a yeast infection, your doctor may prescribe an oral medication or recommend an over-the-counter treatment. If you have a bacterial infection, your doctor will prescribe an antibiotic. Make sure you use all of the medicine your doctor prescribes, even if you start to feel better.

Once your infection is cured and you have returned to normal, you may wish to maintain your vaginal health by ensuring you have an optimal balance of beneficial bacteria and by maintaining healthy vaginal pH. RepHresh Pro-B Probiotic Feminine Supplement is clinically shown to provide healthy beneficial lactobacillus that works with your body to balance yeast and bacteria*. RepHresh Vaginal Gel is clinically shown to maintain healthy vaginal pH. The RepHresh Brand can help you take control of your feminine health - and that is the RepHreshing Truth!