Sometimes things can get out of balance
Our vaginas are home to millions of micro-organisms, and when everything is in balance, they’re very good at looking after themselves. However, sometimes things can get out of balance, leading to an infection, or harmful bacteria such as STIs are introduced and you’ll start to notice that something isn’t right.
It is completely natural to have some vaginal discharge. However, changes in our discharge, along with other symptoms such as itching or discomfort, could be a sign that we’re not in the best of health.
This table helps to explain the symptoms of common vaginal infections which can cause discharge, smell, irritation and itching.
Causes, symptoms and treatment
We've all heard of Thrush, but how much do we know about it? Thrush is the common term for a yeast infection caused by Candida albicans, or “candida”. This is a yeast that lives on the skin and around your vagina. But if the natural balance of micro-organisms is disturbed, it can lead to intense itching and irritation. Sometimes, you may feel a burning sensation and see a thick ‘cottage cheese’, white discharge.
The difference between BV and Thrush
Thrush is the second most common vaginal condition after Bacterial Vaginosis. In fact, BV is often mistaken for thrush, but there are some key differences.
For a start, they’re not caused by the same thing. Even though both can occur when the micro-organisms inside your vagina are out of balance, BV is a bacterial condition but thrush is a yeast infection.
The symptoms of Thrush and BV differ too, but BV is often confused with Thrush because more people have heard of it. In fact, you're twice as likely to have BV than Thrush, so it’s important to understand the differences so you can select the right treatment to get things back to normal.
What are the treatments for thrush?
Thrush can be treated easily with anti-fungal medications that are available as creams, capsules or pessaries. These are very effective and you can pick them up from a pharmacy or online. If your symptoms don’t go away after treatment, just have a chat with your doctor.
Trichomoniasis (aka Trich)
Trichomonas vaginalis is a sexually transmitted infection. It’s also called Trichomoniasis or TV, but is more commonly known as Trich. It infects you vagina and urethra and can also affect men.
Trich has many unpleasant symptoms, including soreness, inflammation and itching in and around the vagina. That’s in addition to possible pain during sex and when passing urine. There may also be an abnormal discharge, which can be thick or thin, or frothy or yellow. Not to mention the chance of a strong unpleasant smell or vulval discomfort.
If you think you have Trich, pay a visit to your local Genito Urinary Medicine (GUM) or sexual health clinic, pharmacist or doctor. However nasty the symptoms, Trich can easily be treated with antibiotics.