Get informed : Sexuality

Vaginal infection
What is it?
•    A vaginal infection is also referred to as vaginitis or a fungal infection.

•    A vaginal infection is not considered to be an STI but some of them may be sexually transmissible.

•    There are several types of vaginal infection; the most common are Candida vaginitis (or fungal vaginitis, also referred to as a yeast infection), bacterial vaginosis and vaginal trichomoniasis.

•    These infections are very common. It is estimated that 75% of women will have a vaginal infection in their lifetime.

•    Vaginitis can be caused by various factors including:
  • Taking antibiotics
  • Taking an oral contraceptive
  • Pregnancy
  • Diabetes
  • The use of acidic or highly perfumed soaps
  • Vaginal douches
  • Vaginal perfumes or deodorants
  • Tight-fitting clothing
  • Scented sanitary napkins or tampons
  • Synthetic underwear
  • Wearing damp clothing for a prolonged period (e.g. bathing suit)
  • Bath foam
  • Sexual contact with an infected person


Symptoms vary from one person to another and depending on the type of vaginal infection. Here is a general list of symptoms:
  • Vaginal itching and irritation
  • Abnormal vaginal discharge
  • Internal and/or external swelling of the genitals
  • Internal and/or external redness in the genitals
  • Burning sensation when urinating
  • Pain during sex
  • Unpleasant odour

•    Treatments vary depending on the type of vaginal infection.

•    Vaginal infection symptoms can also hide an STI (e.g. gonorrhea or chlamydia).

•    If you display any of these symptoms, it is important to consult a physician in order to obtain the correct diagnosis and proper treatment.

•    A medical examination (gynecological or urogenital) is required for diagnosis.

•    Screening tests may not be performed during menstruation.

How do you contract it?
•    Several factors can lead to a vaginal infection (refer to What is it?).

•    Certain infections can be transmitted through sexual contact with an infected person.

How do you treat it?

•    Treatment varies, depending on the type of vaginal infection. Some are treated with antibiotics prescribed by your physician and others are treated with anti-fungal medications sold at the pharmacy.

•    You must complete the full treatment even if the symptoms have disappeared.

•    Careful! Be sure to consult a physician to obtain an accurate diagnosis because the symptoms of Candida vaginitis and bacterial vaginosis are very similar but require different treatment. The application of antifungal medications can mask the symptoms and prolong the duration of the bacterial infection because it goes untreated.

How do you prevent the infection from spreading?

If you have a vaginal infection that is sexually transmissible:
  • Use a condom during sex
  • Inform your sexual partners so they can check for symptoms and consult a physician.

How can you protect yourself?
•    Ensure proper personal hygiene, i.e. clean your genitals every day and dry them properly; be sure to wipe from front to back when you go to the bathroom, and change your lifestyle habits to reduce your risk factors (e.g. avoid vaginal douches, vaginal perfumes/deodorants, synthetic underwear, perfumed soaps, bath foam, scented sanitary napkins or tampons, etc.).

•    Get regularly screened for STIs.

•    Clean reusable contraceptives (diaphragms, cervical caps, spermicide applicators) after each use.

•    Ensure proper use of a condom during vaginal penetration.
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