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Health Tips March 09, 2024

Bacterial Vaginosis vs. Yeast Infection

Written by Favour Obioha

When it comes to vaginal health concerns, yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis (BV) are two common conditions that can cause discomfort and concern for many women. While they may share some similar symptoms, such as vaginal itching and discharge, understanding the differences between these two conditions is crucial for proper diagnosis and treatment. In this comprehensive guide, we'll delve into the causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment options for yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis.

Yeast Infection

Yeast infections, also known as vaginal candidiasis, are caused by an overgrowth of Candida, a type of fungus that naturally resides in the vagina. This overgrowth can occur due to various factors, including antibiotic use, hormonal changes (such as pregnancy or oral contraceptive use), weakened immune system, or high-sugar diets.

Symptoms of Yeast Infection

Symptoms of a yeast infection typically include:

1. Vaginal itching and irritation

2. Thick, white, cottage cheese-like vaginal discharge

3. Redness and swelling of the vulva

4. Pain or discomfort during urination or sexual intercourse


Diagnosis of a yeast infection is usually based on symptoms, medical history, and a physical examination by a healthcare provider. In some cases, a vaginal swab may be taken to confirm the presence of yeast under a microscope or through a culture.


Treatment for yeast infections often involves antifungal medications, which can be applied topically in creams, ointments, or suppositories, or taken orally in the form of pills. Over-the-counter antifungal treatments are available, but it's essential to consult a healthcare provider for proper diagnosis and treatment recommendations.

Bacterial Vaginosis

Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is a common vaginal infection caused by an imbalance of bacteria in the vagina. While the exact cause of BV is not fully understood, certain factors, such as douching, multiple sexual partners, or a change in sexual partners, can increase the risk of developing BV.

Symptoms of bacterial vaginosis 

Symptoms of bacterial vaginosis may include:

1. Thin, grayish-white vaginal discharge with a fishy odor, particularly after intercourse

2. Vaginal itching or irritation

3. Burning sensation during urination

It's important to note that some women with BV may experience no symptoms at all, making diagnosis challenging without proper testing.


Diagnosis of bacterial vaginosis typically involves a combination of symptoms assessment and laboratory tests, such as a vaginal pH test and microscopic examination of vaginal discharge. A healthcare provider may also perform a vaginal swab to check for the presence of harmful bacteria.


Treatment for bacterial vaginosis usually consists of antibiotics, such as metronidazole or clindamycin, which can be taken orally or applied topically as a vaginal gel or cream. It's crucial to complete the full course of antibiotics as prescribed, even if symptoms improve, to prevent recurrence and complications.

Differences Between Yeast Infections and Bacterial Vaginosis

While yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis share some similar symptoms, such as vaginal itching and discharge, there are key differences between the two conditions as shown in the table  below:


Yeast Infection

Bacterial Vaginosis


Caused by an overgrowth of Candida fungus

Results from an imbalance of vaginal bacteria


Thick, white, cottage cheese-like discharge

Thin, grayish-white discharge with a fishy odor.

pH Levels

Normal in yeast infections

Vaginal pH levels are typically elevated in BV (greater than 4.5) 


Treated with antifungal medications

Requires antibiotics to restore the balance of vaginal bacteria


Yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis are common vaginal health concerns that can cause discomfort and inconvenience for many women. While they may share some similar symptoms, understanding the differences between these two conditions is essential for proper diagnosis and treatment. If you experience any unusual vaginal symptoms, such as itching, discharge, or odor, it's essential to consult a healthcare provider for evaluation and appropriate management. With timely diagnosis and treatment, most cases of yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis can be effectively resolved, restoring vaginal health and well-being.

For personalized advice and treatment options, schedule a consultation with your healthcare provider immediately.

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