The Types of Vaginal Infections and Their Causes

Vaginal infections are triggered by diverse causes, and each one can be identified by its specific symptoms. For this reason, it's essential to recognize the symptoms in order to receive timely diagnosis and treatment.
The Types of Vaginal Infections and Their Causes

Last update: 11 February, 2021

There are various causes of vaginal infections. Therefore, they’re one of the main reasons why many women seek gynecological consultations. Although it’s true that, in most cases, one of the determining factors is intimate hygiene, it isn’t the only one to take into account.

The causes of vaginal infections are from specific microorganisms. For example, in the case of bacterial vaginosis, the pathogens are bacteria, as the name implies. In the case of thrush, on the other hand, yeasts cause the infection.

Below we’ll discuss in more detail the types of vaginal infections that exist, their causes, and their main symptoms.

Imbalances in the vaginal microbiota

The vagina is naturally inhabited by a group of microorganisms that help protect it against pathogens and, consequently, infections. This group is called microbiota or vaginal flora.

Now, when the balance of the vaginal microbiota is disturbed, women experience itching, burning, redness and swelling of the vulva, as well as alterations in their vaginal discharge, among other discomforts.

A woman with a vaginal infection.

Main causes of vaginal infections

Experts at Young Women’s Health indicate that the main causes of vaginal infections are:

  • Trichomoniasis (tritch)
  • Bacterial vaginosis (BV)
  • Fungal infection

On the other hand, they clarify that “these causes may include sexually transmitted diseases, a tampon that has been accidentally left in, a congenital problem of the vagina or uterus, or an allergy to or irritation from the use of certain products, such as spermicides, detergents, among others”.

Regarding infections of bacterial origin, the experts at SaludSexall clarify the following: “The most frequent bacterial infections of the genital tract are usually polymicrobial (i.e. involving several germs)”.

These cause alterations in the flow, pelvic pain, and, if not treated correctly in time, can lead to other more serious health problems, such as sterility and increased risk of extrauterine pregnancy.

However, although most vaginal infections have some symptoms in common, each one has a specific set of signs and symptoms. Therefore, they don’t all have the same treatment.

Types of vaginal infections

The following are the main types of vaginal infections.

1. Causes of vaginal infections – vaginal candidiasis

Some bacteria which are causes of vaginal infections.

The yeast Candida albicans causes candidiasis. It causes symptoms such as thick, white vaginal discharge (like cottage cheese), as well as itching or burning (especially during intercourse).

2. Bacterial vaginosis

As explained in the MSD Manual, bacterial vaginosis is caused by the alteration of the bacterial balance in the vagina. It’s the most common vaginal infection and the following factors can be causes:

  • Having multiple sexual partners
  • Using an intrauterine device (IUD)
  • Having a sexually transmitted disease

The most characteristic symptom of this disease is altered vaginal discharge. The discharge is gray (or white), abundant and thin, as well as foul-smelling (with a fishy odor).

3. Trichomoniasis

The protozoan Trichomonas vaginalis causes the vaginal infection trichomoniasis, which is an STD.

Its main characteristics are a green or yellow vaginal discharge, which may be abundant, have a fishy odor and be accompanied by itching or irritation. It also causes discomfort when urinating.

4. Chlamydial vaginitis

A chlamydia bacterium which is one of the causes of vaginal infections.

 The microorganism Chlamydia trachomatis causes this vaginal infection. It’s also an STD and can be asymptomatic. It’s a high-risk vaginal infection because it causes microscopic lesions in the cervix, which can affect the ability to conceive. Therefore, prompt treatment is essential.

The sooner, the better

In conclusion, all vaginal infections require immediate treatment due to the complications they can cause in the long term, as well as the deterioration of your quality of life.

If you are experiencing any of the above-mentioned symptoms, the best thing you can do is go to a specialist doctor so that they can indicate a treatment as soon as possible, depending on the kind of vaginal infection you have.

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