Vaginal yeast and vaginal herpes share similar symptoms. This article is designed to help women better understand what is vaginal yeast, vaginal herpes, their symptoms and to better make the difference between them.
Vaginal Yeast or Vaginal Herpes?
Vaginal yeast and vaginal herpes share similar symptoms. A vaginal yeast infection is very common among women. Actually 3/4 of women have one vaginal yeast episode in their lives and half of them have several episodes.
Vaginal herpes or genital herpes is less common but rapidly spreading. About 25% of all pregnant women have genital herpes and 20% of the population has genital herpes.
- Women are more likely to get genital herpes than men.
- Genital herpes in the US increased by 30% from the late 70's to the early 90's and keeps increasing on a daily basis.
Vaginal yeast is caused by fungi called Candida albicans. They are tiny organisms that normally live in small numbers on the skin and inside the vagina. The vaginal environment is naturally acidic. When its fragile PH balance is disturbed and becomes less acidic yeast starts overgrowing causing vaginal yeast infection. Many things can modify vaginal acidic balance; periods, pregnancy, diabetes, some antibiotics, birth control pills, steroids, friction and so forth. I actually got vaginal yeast from a swimming pool.
Vaginal or genital herpes is caused by a virus that is usually transmitted from skin to skin contact during sexual intercourse. The virus may remain dormant for a while and when triggered cause an infection. Vaginal herpes triggers are not as easily identified as for vaginal yeast. But they usually are associated with periods or menstruation, long-term stress and anything that could weaken your immune system.
Here are a few pointers.
Vaginal herpes itching and burning is usually restricted to one or two specific locations whereas vaginal yeast may cause itching everywhere in the vagina and the vulva.
The same thing applies for swelling. Vaginal herpes may cause a lump somewhere in the vulva or vagina but not cause general swelling of the vulva except maybe in very severe first herpes episodes.
Vaginal discharge associated with vaginal yeast is usually odorless and white or watery whereas when associated with herpes it can be thick, smelly and yellow. Symptoms vary greatly from woman to woman.
Blisters are not very common for vaginal yeast whereas they are part of the normal symptoms of genital herpes. Genital herpes blisters usually turn into sores, then crusts and back into healthy skin within a few days. Blisters and crusts are not usually associated with candida albicans infections.
During a herpes infection, flu like symptoms may appear 24 to 48 hours before any itchiness is perceived especially during the first episode. This is not the case with vaginal yeast infections.
If you have any doubts and blisters start forming you may want to visit your doctor immediately to have a swab test performed. Swab tests are performed locally to detect the presence of herpes in a blister. The sooner you take the test, the better because result accuracy is optimal when samples are obtained before any sores have appeared.
It is recommended for both conditions to use cotton underwear and loose clothing and avoid friction.
Also see our article on: Simple Tips to Cure a Yeast Infection.