Bacterial Vaginosis or Yeast Infection: Which Is It?

Your immediate suspicion may be that you have a yeast infection, however, a yeast infection is not the most common cause of itching, burning, and irritation around or outside of the vagina. Instead, a condition called “bacterial vaginosis” is, and it requires a different treatment if you want to feel better. While both of these treatments can be treated without severe long-term effects, it’s important to know which of the two you’re dealing with.

Here’s how to tell the difference between bacterial vaginosis and a yeast infection:

Strong vaginal odors are frequently a sign of Bacterial Vaginosis. Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) is the most common cause of vaginal infections and results from an imbalance in the natural flora of your vagina and a change in its pH. More specifically, Bacterial Vaginosis is a condition that occurs when the protective peroxide-producing lactobacilli (good bacteria) of the vagina is eliminated, permitting an overgrowth of anaerobes (unfriendly bacteria) and other “un-friendly” pathogens, such as Gardnerella vaginalis and Mycoplasma hominis.

“Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is the most common cause of vaginitis with approximately 50% of all vaginal infections classified as bacterial vaginosis, while only 25% are classified as yeast infections.”


BV symptoms include an abnormal vaginal discharge which can be thin, white or grey in appearance and has a distinct, unpleasant fishy odor. This discharge may sometimes be confused with other vaginal infections such as yeast infections. In fact, as the symptoms of both yeast infections and Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) can be very similar, 2 out of 3 women frequently misdiagnose their symptoms and use the wrong treatment. One major recognizable difference between Bacterial Vaginosis and Yeast infections is the bothersome unpleasant “fishy” odor associated with BV, especially after having sex.
Bacterial Vaginosis usually isn’t dangerous, and at least half of women who develop BV don’t even experience noticeable symptoms. But when the symptoms do become noticeable, they can be really unpleasant. A few of the signature symptoms include:

  • A “fishy” odor that becomes stronger during your period or after sex
  • Thin yellow, white, gray or even greenish discharge
  • Vaginal itching
  • Burning sensation with urination
  • Vaginal Discomfort

“Covering up the problem with sprays, gels, washes, or perfumed soaps won’t help and may actually make things worse. The only real solution to vaginal odor is to restore and maintain your body’s delicate balance.”

A yeast infection is another type of vaginal infection, but this form of vaginitis is the result of a fungus, not bacteria. A yeast infection occurs when the yeast naturally present on your body, usually a type called candida, grows out of control and causes an infection in your vagina and/or vulva. It can happen for a variety of reasons, including a compromised immune system, more frequent sex or pregnancy. Some people, such as those with diabetes, are also more prone to yeast infections. Yeast infections are not sexually transmitted infections (STIs), but sex can lead to a yeast infection, as intercourse can cause small breaks in the skin that allow more yeast to grow.

Vaginal yeast infections are incredibly common: about 3 out of 4 women experience them at some point in their lives, and many experience at least two. The symptoms can appear very similar to those of BV, but with some important distinctions:

  • Vaginal itching and/or irritation of the vulva
  • Pain and soreness
  • Thick, white vaginal discharge that’s odor-free and resembles cottage cheese
  • Vaginal discharge with a watery consistency
  • A burning sensation with urination and/or sex
  • Redness and swelling of the vulva

Like BV, any woman can get yeast infections. However, some activities or behaviors can upset the normal flora in the vagina and put women at increased risk including:

  • Taking regular antibiotics may lead to the decrease in the “good” (or lactobacillus) bacteria causing yeast to grow.
  • Taking birth control pills that contain estrogen can sometimes lead to yeast infections.
  • Major hormonal changes including pregnancy may lead to a yeast infection.
  • People with diabetes or high blood sugar are more likely to contract one.
  • People with weakened immune systems are more likely to contract one.

While BV and yeast infections share many similarities symptom-wise, the two infections have very different causes. In the case of BV, something typically has to disrupt the vagina’s natural bacterial balance. When everything is at it should be, the “good” bacteria (lactobacilli) outnumber the “bad” bacteria (anaerobes). But if something comes along and disrupts the vaginal environment, BV can develop. A few of the most common causes of that disruption:

  • Douching or excessive cleaning of the vagina
  • Hormonal changes that accompany events like menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause
  • Having penile-vaginal sex with a new partner

Yeast infections are different, but some of the initial root causes can be the same. While your vagina naturally contains different types of yeast, the good bacteria we discussed earlier — lactobacilli — typically keep it in check. When something disrupts that delicate balance of bacteria, it can create an overgrowth of one specific type of yeast called candida. Some of the reasons for this overgrowth include:

  • Birth control pills or hormone therapies that increase estrogen levels.
  • The use of antibiotics
  • Uncontrolled diabetes
  • Pregnancy
  • An impaired immune system

It’s important to know that BV and yeast infections aren’t considered sexually transmitted infections (STIs), although they can develop as a result of sexual activity.

Treatments for Yeast Infections and BV

Bacterial Vaginosis: There are a variety of effective treatment options available to treat Bacterial Vaginosis, including over the counter vaginal gels, prescription antibiotics, and alternative remedies. These will help to reduce the risk of experiencing any complications caused by the infection or recurrence.

GYNALAC is not intended to cure or treat an existing infection. The product works to help balance your vaginal pH levels, which can help to eliminate unwanted vaginal odors, including those associated with BV. Because GYNALAC has the same pH level as a healthy vagina and supports the vagina’s self-cleaning mechanisms, many women who use GYNALAC report a decrease in the occurrence of vaginal infections – like BV or yeast infections.

** If you have recurring vaginal discharge, persistent odor, itching, or discomfort, please be sure to contact your doctor.

Yeast Infections: Yeast infections are typically treated with antifungal medications (like Miconazole, which is an over-the-counter medication, and Fluconazole). Severe yeast or recurrent infections may require a long course of antifungal meds or special treatments.

GYNACAN is intended to help maintain a healthy vaginal pH (4-4.5) and support a healthy vaginal ecosystem (that is a favorable balance of good bacteria to bad bacteria), both of which help support the vagina’s self-cleaning mechanisms and support odor control. In doing so, GYNALAC helps to eliminate those unwanted feminine odors that are sometimes caused by vaginal infections.

** If you have recurring vaginal discharge, persistent odor, itching, or discomfort, please be sure to contact your doctor.


  • Restores & maintains vaginal pH balance
  • Supports Vaginal Health
  • Supports odor control
  • With Clinically studied Boric Acid
  • Reusable applicator

You now have an option to deal with vaginal odor that tackles the problem at its source.

Developing a routine, with GYNALAC, that maintains a healthy pH balance is the secret to preventing and eliminating vaginal odor, once and for all.

Vaginal Odor: Between us girls strong vaginal odor won’t go away until you understand how it starts. Clear here to learn more about vaginal odor.

Types of Vaginal Odor: Click here to learn more about the different types of vaginal odor.

Vaginal Discharge: The production of vaginal discharge can change in consistency and appearance depending on many factors. Click here to learn more about vaginal discharge.

Vaginal Discharge Color: Click here for a guide and to learn more about what the color of your vaginal discharge means.

Importance of pH: A healthy vaginal pH is usually between 3.8 and 4.5. Click here to learn more about why pH of the vagina is so important.

Vaginal Health: Click here to learn more about vaginal health.

Antibiotic Resistance: The growing concern over the risk of antibiotic resistance is the primary reasons most healthcare practitioners are now turning towards non-antibiotic approaches to prevent recurrent infections. Learn more here.

Pregnancy: Bacterial Vaginosis is found in about 25% of pregnant women. Click here to learn more about potential risks to your pregnancy.

UTI or Vaginal Infection? If you experience discomfort in your genital area or when you urinate, you may have an infection. Click here to learn more about difference between a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) and Vaginal Infection.

FAQs: Click here to find the answers to commonly asked questions on GYNALAC and bacterial vaginosis.