• Vaginal infection
  • Vaginal infection

Understanding, preventing and treating vaginal infections

Written by: Editors

Modified on: 

It's understandable to be concerned if you suspect there’s something going on with your body, especially if it concerns your intimate health. Vaginal infections are a common problem for many women, but fortunately, they can be easily treated and prevented with the right knowledge and care.

What are vaginal infections?

Vaginal infections are caused by an overgrowth of bacteria or yeast in the vagina, which can lead to various issues. The two most common types of vaginal infection are: 

  1. Bacterial vaginosis (BV): BV is caused by an overgrowth of harmful, pathological bacteria, causing an imbalance of the naturally occurring vaginal flora. Symptoms include a foul-smelling vaginal odour, abnormal vaginal discharge, possibly with itching and irritation. 
  2. Vaginal yeast infection: Vaginal yeast infections are caused by an overgrowth of the fungus Candida albicans in the vagina. Symptoms include itching, a burning sensation, white/lumpy discharge, and pain during urination or intercourse. Approximately 75 percent of women will experience a vaginal yeast infection at some point in their lifetime. 

What causes vaginal infections?

Vaginal infections can be caused by a variety of factors – from use of soaps and medications to specific health issues and hormonal changes during pregnancy or the menstrual cycle.



(Neutral) soap

Use of soap to clean the vagina can irritate vulvar and vaginal tissues. This can disrupt the vaginal flora, allowing fungi and yeasts in the vagina to grow.


Some medications, such as antibiotics, can disrupt the normal flora of the vagina and cause overgrowth of fungi. Hormones, such as corticosteroids, can also alter the acidity or pH balance within the vagina.


Women with diabetes are at higher risk for developing vaginal infections because their blood sugar levels can spike to very high levels. This increase in sugar can cause yeast to overgrow in the vaginal area.

Hormonal changes

Hormonal fluctuations during the menstrual cycle or pregnancy can disrupt the pH balance in the vagina. This provides a more favourable environment for fungi to thrive.

Warm and moist environment

Wearing tight clothing (especially underwear) can create a warm and moist environment that promotes the growth of yeast.


Being sexually active can upset the balance of bacteria in the vagina, which can lead to irritation and an increased risk of infection, especially when there’s a lot of friction during penetrative sex.

Hormonal contraception

Some hormonal contraceptives can affect the pH balance in the vagina, creating an environment conducive to yeast overgrowth.


Vaginal douching can disrupt the natural balance of bacteria and cause irritation, increasing the risk of infections.

Weakened immune system

A weakened immune system can increase the risk of vaginal infections because the body is less capable of fighting off infections.

Excessive sugar intake

A sugar-rich diet can promote the growth of fungi in the vagina, especially in people with diabetes or those prone to yeast infections.

Menopausal hormonal fluctuations

Hormonal fluctuations around menopause can cause the vaginal tissue to become thinner and drier, increasing the risk of vaginal infections.

It is important to be aware of potential causes and risk factors in order to minimise your risk of vaginal infections and to maintain vaginal health.

What are the symptoms?

The most common symptoms of vaginal infections are vaginal itching, burning and redness. Studies have shown that risk factors such as use of antibiotics, sexual intercourse, humidity and use of feminine hygiene products increase the risk for vaginal infections significantly. Many women suffering from recurring infections use antifungal medication continuously or long term as maintenance therapy to keep the symptoms under control. 

Aftercare and psychological impact

It is important to recognise that vaginal infections can have an impact on both women’s physical and emotional well-being. This is especially true for women with recurring infections: they are more likely to suffer from clinical depression, less life satisfaction, low self-esteem and stress. Also, many of these women have reported that vaginal infections seriously interfered with their sexual and emotional relationships. Aftercare, including psychological help from a professional, can help women cope with the psychological impact of their condition and improve their quality of life.


To diagnose a vaginal infection, your doctor may look at a sample of vaginal discharge under a microscope or send it to a lab for analysis.


Most vaginal infections are easy to treat. Bacterial vaginosis can be treated effectively with antibiotics and vaginal yeast infections with antifungal medicines such as clotrimazole or miconazole. Your GP can provide advice and guidance on the best course of action for your situation. Do you have a vaginal infection and want advice and treatment in a discreet setting?

Please feel free to contact us for more information or support. At Dokteronline, we understand the delicate nature of intimate health concerns. That's why we offer discreet advice and effective treatments to deal with vaginal infections. Remember, you're not alone – we're here to help, without judgment. 

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