Bacterial vaginosis vs thrush
Bacterial vaginosis (BV) and thrush are two vaginal infections that are easy to get confused. But while it can be hard to tell the difference between thrush and BV, they are two different infections.
Determining if you have BV or thrush will help you get the correct treatment, and quickly. Fortunately, there are some key things you can look out for to help you figure out which one you have.
Is it BV or thrush?
Bacterial vaginosis and vaginal yeast infections are both very common infections. They can occur at any age and can be easily triggered by certain lifestyle habits or hormonal changes. While both infections can occur at any age, they’re also both more common during your reproductive years.
What is bacteria vaginosis?
Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is a vaginal infection caused by bacterial overgrowth. It can be triggered by a change or imbalance in your vaginal pH level, making it easier for bad bacteria to thrive.
Common causes of BV include changes in hormones, unprotected sex, douching or excessive cleaning, and certain lifestyle habits. This being said, bacteria vaginosis is prevalent in those who are sexually active, due to the link between a vaginal pH imbalance and unprotected sex.
What is thrush?
Vaginal thrush is a yeast infection born from an overgrowth of some nasty bacteria. The scientific name is ‘vaginal candidiasis,’ and it essentially occurs when your immune system is feeling a bit run down and lets the bad bacteria thrive.
While yeast is a naturally occurring fungus within the vagina, too much bad bacteria creates the perfect environment for yeast to thrive, giving you a yeast infection.
Some of the main causes of vaginal thrush include hormonal imbalance, antibiotics, not finishing a previous thrush treatment, a weakened immune system or certain lifestyle habits.
Identifying the difference between thrush and BV
The easiest way to tell the difference between thrush and BV is by having a good old look at your vagina. Observing the discharge, smell and irritation level will be the best thing you can do to figure out which one you have.
Vaginal thrush symptoms
- Discharge: ‘Cottage cheese’ looking, thick, white, creamy discharge
- Smell: Usually doesn’t smell
- Irritation: Very itchy and irritated, red and swollen
Symptoms of BV
- Discharge: Thin, watery, grey or greenish discharge
- Smell: A ‘fishy’ odour
- Irritation: Redness but generally no soreness or irritation
Still struggling to figure out which little pest of an infection you’ve got? It is possible to have both at the same time (unfortunately), so speak to your fave medical professional if you’re unsure.
Generally speaking, they’ll ask about your symptoms, when they started and how uncomfortable the experience has been for you. With your permission, they’ll request you either do a take-home vaginal swab test or an in-clinic one. If you’re comfortable and you decide to go to a gynaecologist for a vaginal health scheck, they might even be able to perform a pelvic examination and check if there’s anything else going on down there.
Treatment: Bacterial vaginosis vs thrush
While both BV and vaginal thrush are caused by bacterial overgrowth, the treatment for each is different. Your doctor will prescribe you the best medication for your needs. This being said, if your symptoms are mild, you may not feel the need to take medication at all.
There are also some pretty easy lifestyle changes you can make to prevent future outbreaks. If you haven’t already seen it, we explore some of these in our in-depth articles on vaginal thrush and vaginal itching.
Take control of your vaginal health
Vaginal health may feel like a taboo topic, but Arravite is proactively fighting the stigma to normalise the conversation around women’s health.
If you’re curious about taking flora probiotics to support your vaginal health, check out our Microflora Probiotic Range.
Always read the label. Follow the directions for use. If symptoms persist, talk to your health professional. Supplements may only be of assistance if dietary intake is inadequate. Do not use if cap seal is broken.