If you currently have something strange going on in your genital area, you may have a common type of infection. Yeast and bacteria are the usual suspects, and the symptoms of these different types of infection are so similar that it is often difficult to make a proper diagnosis without your doctor's help.
Making the wrong diagnosis could put your health in danger. Yeast infections are usually quite harmless, even though they itch and often cause an irritating discharge. Unless your immune system is compromised, you have little to fear from a yeast infection, other than the temporary discomfort.
Bacterial infections, on the other hand, are considerably more serious. Some can be sexually transmitted to your partner, and some can cause damage to your reproductive organs, resulting in infertility. You can see, then, why it's so important to know if you infection is from yeast of one of the more dangerous germs.
Symptoms of a vaginal yeast infection are:
• Itching and burning in the vagina and around the vulva
• A white vaginal discharge. It may look like cottage cheese, and may smell like bakers' yeast or beer
• Pain during sexual intercourse
• Swelling of the vulva
Unfortunately, symptoms of bacterial vaginosis are almost exactly the same. The discharge may smell fishy instead of yeasty, and may be stronger after sex or after washing with soap. You will also itch or burn, and the discharge can be either white, gray or yellow.
Other infections that can have very similar symptoms are caused by the sexually transmitted parasite called tricomoniasis, and by the STD's called Chlamydia and Gonorrhea. All these infections must be treated by your doctor.
If you have a vaginal discharge along with a fever, nausea, chills, upset stomach or vomiting, and/or abdominal pain, you may have a much more serious type of infection. Yeast does not cause these symptoms. You may have a kidney infection, appendicitis or pelvic inflammatory disease, and urgent or emergency care may be needed. Get yourself to a doctor.
Are male infections easier to diagnose? Not necessarily.
A male yeast infection shows up as an itching, red rash on the penis. The rash will look red and flat, with sharp scalloped edges. You may see small pustules around the edges of the rash, and it may itch or burn. A rash around the anus may be white or red, and will itch.
Men who have a thin whitish discharge from the penis with pain or burning during urination may have Tricomonas or Gonorrhea. You don't want either of these infections, and you certainly don't want to share them with your partners, so head over to your doctor's office or clinic for proper care. The symptoms often go away on their own, but the infection is still there, causing internal damage and waiting to infect your next partner.
Yeast infections are so common that we often assume that our discharge, itching, pain or rash is being caused by yeast, but remember that if you do have an infection yeast may not be causing it. It's always safest to see your doctor so you can know for sure.
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