What is a vaginal infection?

Virginal infections are common, and every woman should experience an infection sometime during their lifetime. Any burning, itching, abnormal discharge or unpleasant odour should be an indication of a vaginal infection.

What causes vaginal infections?

The vagina is a self-cleaning organ, which relies on bacteria and yeast to balance the pH in the vagina. The following factors can disrupt the balance in the pH of the vagina, such as:

  • Soaps
  • Douches
  • Antibiotics
  • Vaginal intercourse
  • Pregnancy
  • Breastfeeding
  • Hormonal changes

The most common vaginal infections are:

Yeast infections – these infections are caused by candida, a fungus that usually causes no harm, but grows in warm moist areas and can cause uncomfortable symptoms such as:

  • Excessive amounts of thick, white vaginal discharge
  • Vaginal itching

Bacterial vaginosis – lactobacilli bacteria, which live in the vagina and cause no harm, can trigger a Gardnerella infection when bacteria levels get too low. Symptoms of this infection are:

  • Either a thick and whitish or a slippery and clear discharge.
  • A noticeably fishy odour

Trichomonas - a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by a Trichomonas vaginalis parasite. Symptoms include:

  • Vaginal burning and itching
  • Redness and swelling of the vaginal lips (vulva)
  • Yellow-grey or green vaginal discharge
  • Fishy odour
  • Painful urination

Chlamydia vaginitis – a sexually transmitted disease which causes:

  • Vaginal inflammation
  • Bleeding during intercourse

Non-infectious vaginitis – this infection is more like an allergy due to scented sanitary wear, perfumed soaps and fabric softeners. The symptoms of this infection are:

  • The skin around the vagina becomes sensitive and possibly burns or itches when exposed to the irritant.