Is It a Yeast Infection, BV, or Trich? Know the Difference

Diagnox
November 23, 2022

When you experience vaginal redness, itching, and abnormal discharge it can be tricky to determine the cause. Knowing whether you have a yeast infection, bacterial vaginosis, or trichomoniasis is critical to properly treat the infection and find quick relief. This article will help you understand the differences between the three conditions by comparing their symptoms and examining how they affect vaginal pH. It will discuss how at-home vaginal pH testing can help you distinguish between the three types of vaginal infections.

The texture, color, and odor of vaginal discharge combined with vaginal pH can help you identify the type of vaginal infection.

Discharge

Discharge is a common symptom of many vaginal conditions. You can get clues to the underlying cause by paying attention to the look and smell of your discharge. The discharge associated with a yeast infection is typically thick, white, and curdy without a strong odor. Keep in mind, however, that you can experience thick white discharge that is not due to a yeast infection, so you will need to look at the other symptoms you have as well. 

The discharges typical in BV and trich differ in color, texture and odor. The discharge associated with BV may be off-white, grey, or even greenish and often has a fishy smell. Trich discharge may be thin and frothy and ranges in color from yellow to greenish. It often has a foul, moldy smell. About 70% of people with trich have no symptoms at all, so discharge alone is not a reliable indicator. 

Other Symptoms

Aside from discharge, there are some other symptoms that are commonly present with yeast infections, BV, and trich. Comparing symptoms can be helpful in determining whether it's a trichomoniasis, BV or yeast infection. All three may present with itching, soreness, and redness, although these symptoms are less common with BV. Trich sometimes causes pain with urination, which is not a symptom of BV or a yeast infection. 

Yeast Infection vs UTI

If you experience no discharge but burning sensation, you may have a urinary tract infection, or UTI. Burning upon urination can occur with either yeast infection or UTI, but accompanying discharge is usually associated with a yeast infection. 

Bacterial Vaginosis vs Yeast Infection 

When comparing bacterial vaginosis and a yeast infection, a strong foul odor, particularly after sex, is a strong indicator of BV.

Vaginal pH

There is quite a bit of overlap between the presenting symptoms of yeast infections, BV, and trich, and symptoms vary from person to person. This makes it difficult to determine which condition you have without additional testing. Measuring vaginal pH provides additional information that can help you distinguish between the three. 

BV vs Yeast infection vs Trich

A healthy vagina has a pH of 3.8 to 4.4. Yeast infections do not cause a change in pH, so if you have discharge and symptoms that are consistent with a yeast infection and your vaginal pH is in the range of 3.8 to 4.4, you can be quite sure that you are dealing with a yeast infection, as opposed to BV or trich. An over-the-counter or OTC yeast infection test can be used to confirm the diagnosis. 

BV vs Trich 

An elevated pH is consistent with both trich and BV. Both BV and trich cause an elevation in vaginal pH. Considering trichomoniasis vs BV, a pH of 4.5 or higher combined with fishy smelling discharge is likely BV, while a pH of 4.5 or higher combined with frothy, moldy-smelling discharge is likely to be caused by trich. 

At-Home pH Testing

Measuring vaginal pH may sound intimidating, but it can easily be performed with a simple at-home test. Using Vaginox, you can quickly and discretely test the pH of your vaginal discharge in the comfort of your own home. Affordable, individually packaged vaginal pH test strips provide reliable vaginal pH data. Combining the test results with your presenting symptoms will give you clues as to whether you have a yeast infection, BV, or trich. 

If you are experiencing discomfort and unusual discharge and you have a normal vaginal pH, you can take an at-home yeast infection test to confirm and treat the infection accordingly. Having an elevated pH is a strong signal that you have a bacterial or parasitical infection and should seek prompt medical care for a diagnosis and treatment. 

References:

Cleveland Clinic: “Bacterial Vaginosis: What is it, Symptoms, Causes &Treatment.”

Emedicinehealth: “Yeast Infection Discharge: Symptoms & Treatment.”

WebMD: “Trichomoniasis (Trich): Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, and Prevention.”