A Guide to Vaginal Health

Discover the issues common in vaginal health, at Alphega Pharmacy. Learn & understand the symptoms, how to get tested & treated for these conditions.

What is the difference between thrush and bacterial vaginosis

Thrush is a fungal infection caused by a yeast that lives normally in our body – called Candida Albicans - which can grow excessively when our bodies experiences changing conditions such as periods, antibiotic treatments, pregnancy or debilitating diseases. 

The main symptoms of thrush include unusual discharges, discomfort while urinating and soreness inside and outside the intimate areas.

Thrush is fairly common in women and it can be treated quite easily if diagnosed correctly

Bacterial Vaginosis is caused by the overgrowth of the micro-organisms which are normally present in the vagina. It is not well understood why this happens but it is rather common is women between 14 and 44 years of age

What are the signs and symptoms of bacterial vaginosis?

Around half of women with bacterial vaginosis will not have any signs and symptoms at all, or they may not be aware of them. 

A symptom can be a change in your usual vaginal discharge. This may increase, become thin and watery, change to a white/grey colour and develop a strong, unpleasant, fishy smell, especially after sexual intercourse.

Bacterial vaginosis is not usually associated with soreness, itching or irritation. 

Bacterial vaginosis

Why did you get thrush?

Many factors might cause the overgrowth of candida in your body – and the breakout of thrush. You can find here the most common causes of thrush:

  • Tight clothing or synthetic clothing (like nylon underwear) that prevents ventilation.

  • Excessive use of irritating products such as vaginal deodorant or perfumed bubble bath or shower gels.

  • Antibiotic treatments that reduce the lactobacillus in your vaginal flora

  • Uncontrolled diabetes or illnesses that affect your immune system

  • Pregnancy

Why do you get bacterial vaginosis?

The cause of bacterial vaginosis – sometimes called BV – is not really understood. In women who have bacterial vaginosis you find:

  • Less of the normal vaginal bacteria (lactobacilli)

  • An overgrowth of other types of bacteria in the vagina


  • Itching, soreness and redness around the intimate areas

  • Unusual, white discharge from the vagina that may be thick and look like cottage cheese. It sometimes smells yeasty.

  • Pain when passing urine.

  • Pain when having sex.

Thrush symptoms

In women thrush presents itself in one or a combination of the previous symptoms. Some people will not have any signs or symptoms at all, and may not be aware they have thrush. Treatment is simple for both men and women and is only necessary if symptoms of thrush are present.

Thrush treatments

Treatments to fight this fungal infection consist of antifungal cream, pessaries, pills or a combination. The cream is applied to the intimate areas affected. A pessary is usually an almond-shaped tablet which can be easily inserted into the vagina.

Treatments for vaginal health

Treatment for bacterial vaginosis

  • Involves taking antibiotic tablets. There are several different antibiotics that can be used. These are taken either as a single dose or a longer course (up to one week).

  • You may be given a cream or gel instead. You will need to use this in the vagina for 5–7 days.

  • Some creams can weaken latex condoms, diaphragms and caps. Polyurethane types can be safely used. Ask the doctor or nurse for advice.

  • Do tell the doctor, nurse or pharmacist if you are pregnant, or think you might be, or you are breastfeeding.

  • There is currently no evidence that complementary therapies can cure bacterial vaginosis.

How can we help you?

Thrush and bacterial vaginosis are two common conditions which cause similar symptoms (discharges, discomfort, soreness). However, despite having similar symptoms, thrush and BV are different conditions: 

  • Thrush is a fungal infection.

  • Bacterial vaginosis is an overgrowth of micro-organisms.

  • This is why, if are suffering from a vaginal infection you should firstly get a correct diagnosis and then find the right course of treatment with the help of your pharmacists or your doctor.