Vaginitis: Types
The Different Types of Vaginosis

Vaginitis Guide


Vaginitis: Types


Bacterial Vaginosis
Yeast Infections
Cytolytic Vaginosis
Atrophic Vaginitis
Other Types

Guide To Vaginitis
See overview at:
Vaginitis Information

The following is a list of the most common, and a few less common types of vaginitis.

Bacterial Vaginosis

This is the most common type of vaginitis in the US with nearly 30 percent of all women experiencing it at some time in their life (image). It used to be known as non-specific vaginosis, gardnerella vaginitis, hemophilus vaginitis and corynebacterium vaginitis. It used to be thought that bacterial vaginosis was caused by one type of bacteria, but now it is thought to be the result of different ones which produce similar symptoms.

According to the National Vaginitis Association, bacterial vaginosis is associated with potentially more serious infections including genital tract infection and sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV. This is because bacterial vaginosis lowers the body’s immune system. However it is not considered an STD. It may also contribute towards pregnancy complications (miscarriage, low birth weight and premature ruptures) and for this reason the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends all pregnant women be tested for the condition. It has also been linked to pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).


1. Grayish, white/yellow discharge or it may be thin and watery.
2. Discharge has a strong fish odor and is more noticeable after intercourse or washing with soap.
3. Any usual discharge should be checked to rule out gonorrhea or chlamydia infections.
4. There may or may not be vaginal itching or irritation.
5. Cramps and stomach pain.

See also vaginitis causes and a guide to vaginitis prevention tips.

Yeast Infections

A yeast infection is the second most common type of vaginitis and are caused by yeast-like fungi called Candida albicans or Monilia. Both Candida and Monilial fungi occur naturally in the vagina. When something upsets the delicate balance of the vaginal ecosystem, they can multiple and cause a yeast infection. Anything from overuse of antibiotics to hormone changes and lowered immune system can trigger this situation. See also causes of yeast infections.

The Classic Symptoms

1. Vaginal discharge which is usually white, sticky and clumpy. It can smell sweet or bread-like.
2. Itchiness & burning, both internal and external of the vulva (called vulvitis). This can occur without the presence of a discharge.
3. Red and sore looking skin around the vulva. Cracks may appear in the skin if the infection is not treated and the vulva can be covered in the discharge.

Other Symptoms

• Abdominal pain, diarrhea and bloating
• Depression
• Feeling tired or drained
• Severe premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms
• Irritability
• Heartburn
• Skin rashes
• Bad breath
• Puffy eyes
• Constant bladder infections
• Rectal itching
• Sleeping difficulties


Trichomoniasis (or trichomonas) is the third most common type of vaginitis and is caused by a one-celled parasite called trichomonas vaginalis. This is transmitted sexually which makes it an STD. There are an estimated 7.4 million cases a year and statically women are far more likely to infect men. Usually trichomonas can be harmless, but symptoms can be uncomfortable. It only causes a problem when a woman is pregnant as it raises the risks of pregnancy complications. Symptoms usually occur between 5 and 28 days after infection. However according to the CDC, 85 percent of women are asymptomatic (experience no symptoms).


1. Gray/greenish discharge which may be frothy.
2. Discharge can have a fishy smell.
3. There may be itching and irritation.
4. Soreness or burning when passing urine (dysuria).
5. Sexual intercourse may be painful.
6. Lower abdominal pain, but this is unusual.
Note: It is possible to have no symptoms and still pass on the infection.

Most men do not experience any symptoms, although some may experience:
1. Temporary irritation inside the penis.
2. Slight burning after ejaculation or urination.

Prevalence Statistics

According to the CDC, trichomonas affects:
• About 3 percent of the female population in America.
• Typically it significantly affects more black women than white or Mexican.

Vaginitis Diagnosis: Important step to attaining correct treatment.

Cytolytic Vaginosis

The organism that causes this type of vaginitis has not been identified. Although it is suspected that cytolytic vaginosis may result from the overgrowth of lactobacilli. Doctors are not sure what causes this event to happen. Sometimes a woman has been treated for a chronic vaginal discharge with various medications including anti-fungal and antibiotics. These treatments can lead to an imbalance in the normal vaginal bacteria and lead to an overgrowth of lactobacillus.


1. Vaginal and/or vulva itching and redness.
2. Vaginal discharge which can be either thick and clotty, or thin and watery.
3. Mild discomfort with urination or intercourse.
4. Symptoms become more prominent in the latter half of the menstrual cycle.

Atrophic Vaginitis

Atrophic vaginitis is an inflammation of the vagina caused by a thinning of the vaginal wall and decreased lubrication. It is closely linked to decline of estrogen in postmenopause women. For this reason it is also known as senile vaginitis. However younger women may experience this condition too if they take medications designed to lower estrogen levels (for conditions such as uterine fibroids, infertility, endometriosis and breast cancer). Estrogen levels can also be affected by stress, depression, and severe exercise. It may also occur in women who have had their ovaries removed. The vagina can also be irritated and dried by soaps, douching, fabrics softeners and perfumes sprayed in the area.


1. Burning on urination.
2. Vaginal soreness, itching and burning.
3. Slight vaginal discharge.
4. Light bleeding after intercourse.
5. Painful intercourse that can put you off the experience.

Other Types

On the rare occasion vaginitis can result from a Shigella bacteria infection, although typically symptoms are more likely to be diarrhea, fever and stomach cramps. Those who travel to poorer countries may acquire an amoebic vaginal infection. Symptoms include a bloody mucus discharge and inflammation of the vagina. Occasionally vaginitis can occur from the overgrowth of the bacteria streptococcus which occurs naturally in the vagina. It may also occur from an overgrowth of E.coli which occurs more commonly in the digestive tract.

  Related Articles on Types of Vaginitis

For more female problems and solutions, see the following:

Vaginitis Treatment
Urinary Tract Infections

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