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Do I Have A Yeast or Bacteria Infection?

By Catie Chung, RN, MA

Do I Have A Yeast or Bacteria Infection?

All the changing hormones in your pregnant body have an effect down there and the result can be an overgrowth of yeast or bacteria in the vaginal tract. Yes, another cause for discomfort. And all of the itchiness that comes with both can be maddening – but more importantly, one needs an over-the-counter treatment while the other can threaten your pregnancy. How can you tell the difference?

While yeast infections aren’t dangerous, they are darn uncomfortable and unfortunately extremely common during pregnancy. The proliferation of that creamy, itchy cottage cheese-like discharge is simply an overgrowth of the yeast fungus in the vaginal tract. You may notice a yeast-like odor, lots of itchy discharge, burning during intercourse or urination and red irritated skin around your vagina.

The quickest way to help yourself is to head to your nearest pharmacy and purchase an over-the-counter remedy. While 7-day formulations work best during pregnancy to prevent a recurrence (yes, 7-day packs. The things we go through!), you might even have to treat the infection for up to 14 days.

When it’s bacteria

However, a bacterial vaginosis is caused by an overgrowth of bacteria and can complicate your pregnancy. Bacterial vagninosis has been linked to preterm labor, premature rupture of membranes and low birth weight.

Bacterial vaginosis often has a gray or whitish discharge with has a fishy odor, and you may have red and itchy irritated skin around your vagina. If you have bacterial vaginosis, you must see your healthcare provider to be put on the correct treatment, including antibiotics. There is no precise cause for bacterial vaginosis.

Home testing

Because yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis share similar symptoms – smelly discharge and itchy, irritated vaginal tissue to name just two – it’s helpful to see your healthcare provider to distinguish your infection. Just this summer, a new home test became available that lets you perform a pH test at home to help you figure out if you’re experiencing a yeast infection or bacterial vaginosis. Starting with this test could potentially save you time and put you on the path to the right treatment more quickly.

Don’t be shy in talking about either yeast infections or bacterial vaginosis with your care provider, she or he sees these types of infections all of the time and wants to help you get treatment as well as start using strategies that can keep them from returning.

To help prevent problems with infections in the future wear 100% cotton underwear, yes, your mom was right. Remember to give your daughters the same advice!

About the author: Catie Chung, RN, BSN, MA is a nursing instructor at National University Nevada in Henderson, NV.

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