Vaginal Infections

The two most common vaginal infections are candidiasis (yeast) and bacterial vaginosis (BV). They are typically caused by a change in the balance of the organisms that live in the vagina.  While these are the two most common vaginal infections, there are others that can be sexually transmitted. If your symptoms persist or do not sound similar to yeast or BV we recommend an office visit for evaluation.

What are the differences?

Yeast infections typically cause a cottage-cheese like white discharge without an odor and may cause vaginal irritation or itching. Bacterial vaginosis typically causes a thinner white, grey, or yellow discharge associated with a foul (fishy) odor.

How are they diagnosed?

A vaginal exam can be performed by one of our healthcare providers and a sample of the discharge will then be evaluated using a microscope.

How are they treated?

  • Yeast infections can be treated with over the counter topical creams (Monistat or Clotrimazole). We recommend avoiding the 1 day treatment options as these often cause vaginal burning. Instead, please use the 3 or 7 day options. If your symptoms do not improve with over the counter medication use, please schedule an appointment with one of our providers for further evaluation.
  • Bacterial vaginosis requires a prescription antibiotic for treatment. For this reason, if you are having symptoms suggestive of BV, we recommend an office visit with one of our providers.

How can I prevent a vaginal infection?

  • Avoid douching (cleaning inside of the vagina)
  • Stop using soaps, body wash, or cleansers near the vagina. These can wash away the good, healthy organisms that protect the vagina against infections.
  • Keep the vulva as dry as possible. That means changing out of your bathing suit after swimming or showering soon after exercise.
  • Limit the number of sexual partners that you have and always use condoms if you are not in a monogamous relationship.


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San Francisco, CA 94111

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