Vaginal Infection Causes Symptoms Treatment and More

On an average, around 29% of the female population in India has suffered from some kind of vaginal infection at least once in their lifetime. The condition can be caused by various reasons and pathogens, and each type manifests as different symptoms and requires individually tailored treatment.

In medical terms, vaginal infection is termed as Vaginitis, and if you are experiencing any of the related symptoms, you must prioritize getting medical attention instead of brushing it to the side.

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore everything there is to know about vaginal infection, the causes, types, and the relevant symptoms and treatment options.

What is Vaginitis or Vaginal Infection?

Before we further elaborate on the condition and the implications of the disease, let us understand the basics of the disease.

Vaginitis is nothing but infection in the vagina, which leads to inflammation as well as other symptoms. The condition is primarily triggered due to an imbalance in the microbes that are present in the vagina. Besides pain and discomfort, the condition is also characterized by excess vaginal discharge and a foul fish-like smell in some cases.

What are the Types and Causes of Vaginal Infection?

We briefly pointed out that vaginal infections can be categorized into different types based on the primary causative agent. So, let us break them down for better understanding.

Yeast infections

When talking about bacterial infections, the most common of them all is yeast infections, which are caused by the Candida species fungus. Out of all the types of fungi, Candida albicans is the one that is most commonly responsible for causing the infection. In most cases, the fungus outgrowth reaches the vagina’s mucosal lining, leading to an inflammatory response.

Causes of this type:

  • Side-effects of antibiotics
  • Hormonal changes
  • Compromised immune system
  • Stress

Bacterial infections

Next on the list include vaginal infections that are caused by bacterial pathogens. In these cases, the sudden drop in the availability of lactobacilli or the “good bacteria” in the vagina leads to the overgrowth of other harmful bacteria, leading to the infection.

Some common types under this category include:

  • Bacterial vaginosis
  • Chlamydia and gonorrhea

Causes of this type:

  • Overgrowth of certain bacteria present in the vagina
  • Sexual contact (at times)
  • Oral sexual contact
  • Unprotected Sexual intercourse

Viral infections

The third type in the list of vaginal infections is the viral ones that are characterized by diseases like herpes and genital warts. While herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) is responsible for the former, warts are due to human papillomavirus (HPV). Since viruses are highly communicable, the spread can happen when one comes in contact with someone infected with the virus or through sexual contact and the exchange of bodily fluids.

Causes of this type:

  • Skin-to-skin contact with someone with the virus
  • Sexual transmission


This is probably one of the worst and most painful forms of vaginal infections that lead to symptoms like vaginal itching and irritation, accompanied by a fish-like odor and vaginal discharge. Besides the standard symptoms of the infection, most women suffering from this infection also experience pain when they are having penetrative sex or an extreme burning sensation when urinating.

Causes of this type:

  • Sexual transmission
  • Shared bathwater
  • Public pools
  • Shared towels or using damp clothing

Atrophic vaginitis

This is primarily a risk factor that enhances the chances of a woman getting vaginitis. But, the catch is that the condition mimics the standard symptoms of vaginal infection, like itching, burning sensation, redness, inflammation, etc., without it being an infection.

Causes of this type:

  • Generally caused after menopause
  • Reduced hormone levels, especially estrogen.

Familiarizing yourself with the types and the causes of each type of vaginal infection is crucial to be able to distinguish between them and know what you might be struggling with when you experience the symptoms.

What are the Symptoms of Vaginal Infection?

With the different types of vaginal infections, it goes without saying that even the symptoms are subjective in most cases. That said, there are a few standard symptoms of vaginal infection that deserve to be discussed.

If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, they could be indicative of vaginitis and require immediate medical attention:

  • Unusual vaginal discharge
  • Strong, fish-like, or foul odor from the vaginal discharge
  • Irritation, redness, and itching around the external genitalia (vulva)
  • Feeling pain and burning sensation when peeing

These are some of the symptoms that guarantee that you are suffering from some kind of vaginal infection and require immediate medical intervention. This is something we prioritize at Queen’s Gynecology as well. Not paying attention to the symptoms won’t help in the long run. It may not only delay the recovery but also have a high chance of recurrence in the future.

With that said, the following are some of the subjective symptoms of the different types of vaginal infection that one needs to know about the below-mentioned symptoms and the type of infection they are related to.

Type of Vaginal InfectionSymptoms
Yeast infections-Irritation-Itching-Burning in and around the vagina-Thick, slimy, and white-colored vaginal discharge-Swelling around the vulva
Bacterial infectionsBacterial vaginosis -Thin, gray-colored vaginal discharge-Fishy-smelling odor from the vagina-Burning sensation while peeing-Painful sexual intercourse-Itching around external genitalia (vulva) Chlamydia and gonorrhea -Vaginal discharge that’s white, greenish color-Vaginal spotting or bleeding-Burning sensation during peeing-Painful sexual intercourse-Pelvic pain-Swelling of the labia
Viral infectionsGenital herpes -Sores on the labia and vulva-Burning sensation while peeing-Swollen lymph nodes-Fever-Headaches Genital warts -Clusters of warts-Bleeding from the warts-Itching-Pain and discomfort
Trichomoniasis-Itching-Soreness-Burning sensation in the genitals-Sudden change in the vaginal discharge-Discomfort while peeing
Vaginal atrophy-Swelling and irritation-Flushing of the vagina and vulva-Pain and discomfort-Stinging sensation

Depending on the symptoms, it is easier to depict what kind of bacterial infection you might be suffering from.

What are the Treatment Options for Vaginal Infections?

The treatment for vaginal infections depends on the pathogen that’s causing it. The following are the treatments worth paying attention to the below-mentioned treatments.

Treatment for yeast infections:

Yeast infections generally occur due to fungus, which is why it is treated using antifungal agents. It can either be using oral medications or topical ointment.

Treatment for bacterial infections:

If you are suffering from bacterial vaginosis, antibiotics like clindamycin or metronidazole are the first line of treatment. In some cases where the condition is diagnosed earlier, the doctors opt for close monitoring until it heals.

For chlamydia and gonorrhea, antibiotic is also the first line of treatment for quicker recovery.

Note: Abstaining from any kind of sexual activity is highly crucial until the infection has completely healed.

Treatment for viral infections:

People suffering from viral infections like herpes can undergo antiviral therapy to manage the symptoms better. In most cases, doctors use the wait-and-watch method because there is no known cure for the condition.

Treatment for Trichomoniasis

Like bacterial infections, antibiotics are also prescribed for Trichomoniasis. Options like metronidazole or tinidazole are generally prescribed.

The treatment for any kind of vaginal infection starts with a comprehensive evaluation at Queen’s Gynecology. A correct and holistic diagnosis is key when it comes to the treatment of vaginal infections.

What are Common Complications of Vaginal Infection?

One of the most common questions that we get from our patients at Queen’s Gynecology is regarding the complications associated with the condition.

The issues typically occur when the condition is left untreated. If you are experiencing any symptoms that are indicative of a vaginal infection, it is crucial to seek immediate medical attention.

Some common complications include pelvic inflammatory disease (PIV) or postpartum endometriosis.

Besides these, experiencing vaginal infection during pregnancy raises a lot of complications, which is one of the reasons why monitoring the situation closely is quite vital.


Vaginal infections are a common health concern for women, but with proper awareness, understanding, and preventive measures, their impact can be minimized. Women must prioritize their reproductive health, seek medical attention when needed, and adopt healthy lifestyle practices to maintain the delicate balance of the vaginal environment.

Don’t take the symptoms for granted. If you are experiencing the signs and discomfort related to vaginal infection, our team of doctors are here to help you navigate through the issues. For more details, contact us at +91 9654999888.

Kashmera Hazra

Kashmera Hazra

Kashmera Hazra is an engineer turned writer. She is an alumnus of the prestigious university Birla institute of technology, Mesra, and has several international journals and research papers in her name. She worked as a content writer with HealthKart and has over six years of experience in this field.

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