It is estimated that most women experience at least one vaginal infection in their lifetime often resulting in symptoms like itching, burning, inflammation, and an unpleasant vaginal odor. Known under the collective term of vaginitis, vaginal infections can reoccur or trigger the onset of another type of infection if left untreated. 

Understanding the early signs and symptoms of a vaginal infection is the key to not only identifying what type of infection it is but also treating it correctly. In this article, we cover the most common types of vaginal infections, what causes them, and the most effective treatment for each. 

What Causes Vaginal Infections? 

A healthy vaginal microbiome (environment) contains the perfect balance of beneficial and harmful bacteria, as well as small amounts of naturally growing yeast (fungi). In fact, as a self-cleaning machine, the vagina requires nothing more than a daily wash with water to remain healthy, fresh, and hygienic. 

When the vaginal microbiome is balanced, it maintains a mildly acidic pH level between 3.8 and 5.0 which can keep vaginal infections at bay. However, when the vaginal pH levels are altered and the microbiome becomes unbalanced, vaginal infections can easily develop. 

What Causes the Vaginal Microbiome to Become Unbalanced? 

Several factors can upset the natural balance and pH levels of the vaginal environment, including reactions to certain hygiene products, soaps, or detergents. The spread of bacteria, parasites, or viruses during intercourse can also upset the vaginal microbiome. As can poor hygiene or ‘over-cleaning’ the vagina with douches or other vaginal rinsing products. 

Hormone changes during pregnancy, breastfeeding, and menopause can also instigate changes in the vaginal microbiome that result in vaginitis. A poor immune system and taking antibiotics for another condition can also trigger certain vaginal infections.   

5 Different Vaginal Infections That Are Common

Although there are various types of vaginal infections, some are more common than others. The most common are: 

  • Yeast Infection
  • Bacterial Vaginosis
  • Trichomoniasis
  • Viral vaginitis
  • Non-infectious vaginitis

Yeast Infections Explained

Medically referred to as Vaginal Candidiasis, a vaginal yeast infection is caused by an overgrowth of the fungus known as candida. Although it naturally resides in the vagina, candida is normally prevented from overgrowing by the presence of ‘friendly’ bacteria known as lactobacilli.

When the natural balance of lactobacilli and candida is upset, candida overgrows and causes a yeast infection. This can be caused by taking antibiotics to treat another condition since antibiotics kill beneficial bacteria like lactobacilli as well as harmful bacteria.

Taking oral contraceptives is also believed to increase the risk of yeast infections, as can poor eating habits, diabetes, stress, and fluctuations in estrogen levels. 

Symptoms of a vaginal yeast infection can include: 

  • Vaginal itching & inflammation
  • Vulvar itching and inflammation
  • A burning sensation when urinating
  • A lumpy white vaginal discharge resembling cottage cheese (usually odorless)
  • Pain during sex (dyspareunia)

Treating Yeast Infections & Recurring Yeast Infections

Over-the-counter antifungal creams or vaginal suppositories are the first line of medical treatment for yeast infections. Prescribed to curb the overgrowth of candida, using antifungal medication allows the vaginal microbiome to slowly rebalance. If a healthy vaginal environment is not fully restored, however, another yeast infection or another form of vaginitis can easily develop. 

For those who continue to suffer symptoms after the use of antifungal medication, or for women who suffer from recurring yeast infections soon after, Boric Acid Balance Suppositories are highly effective.

Studies show that completing a full course of boric acid suppositories in conjunction with the antifungal medication will kill all remaining harmful microbes and effectively restore healthy vaginal pH levels to prevent recurring infections.  

Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) Explained

Caused by an overgrowth of harmful bacteria known as Gardenella Vaginalis, BV can occur at any age but is most common in women aged 14-45 who are sexually active.

Although it is not a sexually transmitted infection, BV is often most prevalent in women with several sexual partners. While medical researchers remain unclear as to what causes bacterial vaginosis, factors that disrupt the delicate balance of the vaginal microbiome are believed to play a role. 

Douching or over-cleaning the vagina, and using fragranced soaps or perfumed menstrual products can contribute to the onset of BV. The fact that sperm is alkaline in comparison to the mildly acidic environment of the vagina is also considered a factor for women who engage in unprotected sex. Given that the microbiome of each penis is unique, having multiple sexual partners can also increase the risk of BV developing. 

BV can be symptomless for more than 50% of women, meaning it is often only diagnosed during an annual Pap smear or gynecological exam. When symptoms do occur, they often include the following, which are similar to those associated with a yeast infection apart from the texture and fish-like odor from vaginal discharge. 

  • Vaginal itching & irritation
  • A burning sensation while urinating
  • A thin, gray vaginal discharge with a fish-like odor (particularly after sex)
  • Pain during sex (dyspareunia)
  • Fever (but not for everyone)

Treating Bacterial Vaginosis 

Antibiotics are the first line of medical treatment for BV, but because it is known to recur in as many as 50% of women, Boric Acid in suppository form, like our Boric Balance, is often recommended in conjunction with antibiotics to prevent future infections. 

It should be noted that boric acid suppositories alone cannot destroy the bacteria that cause BV. Antibiotics are always required to treat this vaginal infection but the antimicrobial and antiseptic properties of boric acid will help to completely eradicate the harmful bacteria as well as restore a balanced vaginal microbiome once the infection is cleared. 

Trichomoniasis Explained

Often referred to as ‘trich’, trichomoniasis is noted as one of the most common sexually transmitted infections and is known to affect women more than men. It is caused by a parasite known as Trichomonas Vaginalisas (TV), which is transferred during sex. However, research has shown that because trich is symptomless for most men, they are generally unaware that they are spreading it. 

Trich is also symptomless in as many as 85% of women and is often only detected during regular testing for STIs. When symptoms do occur in women, they typically become apparent within 28 days and can include the following:

  • Vaginal itching & irritation
  • Redness & inflammation around the vaginal opening & vulva
  • Milky white, yellow, or green vaginal discharge with an unpleasant odor
  • Frequent need to urinate
  • Burning sensation when urinating
  • Spotting or light bleeding, particularly after intercourse
  • Pain in the lower abdomen 

Treating Trichomoniasis

Antibiotics are the first line of medical treatment for treating trich. Since antibiotics destroy good bacteria along with harmful bacteria, however, taking antibiotics for trich often causes a vaginal microbiome imbalance that results in a yeast infection. Additionally, even after completing a course of antibiotics, trich is known to return in up to 20% of women within 3 months. 

Studies have recently proven that boric acid suppositories are a safe and successful option for treating trichomoniasis without risking any of the side effects of antibiotics. When treating trich, it’s important to inform all sexual partners of the infection so they can seek treatment too, and refrain from intercourse until it has cleared. 

Untreated trich can lead to a more serious infection of the uterus and fallopian tubes known as pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), and it can also increase the risk of contracting HIV. 

Viral Vaginitis Explained

As well as harmful bacteria, parasites, and the overgrowth of fungi, viruses can also cause vaginal infections. The most common are the Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV) and Papillomavirus (HPV), both of which are spread during sexual activity. 

Symptoms of HSV can include painful blisters and abrasions on the outer, and sometimes, inner vagina, as well as genital pain and discomfort. HPV can manifest as warts around the genitals and anus, and when left untreated it is known to increase the risk of cervical cancer. 

Treating Viral Vaginitis

Although there is no current cure for HSV, antiviral medication can help ease symptoms and reduce the risk of spreading it to other sexual partners. There is also no cure for HPV, however, a vaccination is now administered to children aged 9-11 to prevent infection later in life.

For women who don’t receive a vaccine against HPV, topical medicines, cryosurgery, and laser therapy can be used to remove abnormal cells and lower the risk of uterine cancer.  

Non-infectious Vaginitis Explained

Non-infectious vaginitis is caused by something other than an infection, typically a skin reaction to synthetically fragranced products that come close to or enter the vagina. These can include detergents, douches, menstrual products, soaps, shower gels, or bubble bath products. 

Radiation treatment for cancer is another cause of non-infectious vaginitis. It can also be instigated by fluctuating hormone levels during pregnancy, breastfeeding, and menopause, or after a hysterectomy or oophorectomy. This type of non-infectious vaginitis is commonly referred to as Atrophic Vaginitis and is typically linked to lowered levels of estrogen. 

Symptoms of non-infectious vaginitis or atrophic vaginitis include:

  • Vaginal itching & inflammation
  • Vaginal burning during urination
  • Feeling of vaginal tightness or dryness 
  • Pain during sex (dyspareunia)
  • Urinary issues & light spotting (rare)

Treating Non-infectious Vaginitis

Treatment for non-infectious vaginitis is largely based on eliminating the irritant and allowing the skin to heal. For some, a process of elimination may be required to identify the irritant, while for others it might be easily determined due to the use of a new product. Applying an organic vaginal moisturizer will also help ease irritation and encourage the skin to heal.  

To treat pain during sex, which is often a symptom of atrophic vaginitis, a non-irritating, water-based lubricant can ease the dryness and tightness, allowing for more pleasurable intercourse. During or after menopause, when lowered levels of estrogen can result in acute atrophic vaginitis, vaginal dilation therapy is one of the most effective treatments. 


Vaginal infections are common and occur for diverse reasons with varying symptoms depending on the cause. Most are easily treated with antibiotics, antiviral or antifungal medication, and/or natural remedies like boric acid suppositories.

If you suspect you have any of the common vaginal infections mentioned in this article, don’t be embarrassed. The sooner you receive a diagnosis and treatment, the sooner you can get back to living a healthy and pain-free life. 


Web MD - Vaginitis (Vaginal Infections)  -

Johns Hopkins Medicine – Yeast Infection -

Cleveland Clinic – Boric Acid Suppository -

University of Washington – Boric Acid for Recurrent Vaginal Yeast Infections - chrome-extension://efaidnbmnnnibpcajpcglclefindmkaj/

Centers For Disease Control & Prevention – Bacterial Vaginosis -

National Center for Biotechnology Information – Clinicians' use of Intravaginal Boric Acid Maintenance Therapy for Recurrent Vulvovaginal Candidiasis and Bacterial Vaginosis -

Centers for Disease Control & Prevention – Trichomoniasis CDC Fact Sheet

Centers for Disease Control & Prevention – Genital Herpes Treatment and Care -

National Cancer Institute – HPV and Cancer -

Mayo Clinic - Vaginal Atrophy -

American Family Physician - Diagnosis and Treatment of Atrophic Vaginitis -

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