The symptoms of cytolytic vaginosis can mimic other common vaginal conditions. Here’s how to tell them apart.

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Vaginal itching, burning, increased discharge, and pain during penetrative sex are known symptoms of cytolytic vaginosis.

Doctors can rule out other conditions for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.

Itching can occur inside the vaginal canal and on the vulva.

The vulva includes the mons pubis, the opening of the urethra, labia majora (outer lips), labia minora (inner lips), vaginal opening (vestibule), clitoris, and the perineum (the area between the vaginal opening and the anus).

Itching can be continuous or intermittent, and treatment can vary.

A baking soda paste could offer some relief for an irritated vulva. Baking soda can increase the pH of the vaginal environment, making it unsuitable for excess bacteria to multiply.

Mix baking soda and water together to create a watery paste, and apply directly to the vulva to relieve itching.

Older research suggests that douching with a baking soda solution or using a baking soda suppository twice weekly for 2 weeks may also be beneficial.

Burning sensations may worsen during urination (dysuria), similar to a urinary tract infection (UTI), so it’s important to rule out UTIs as a potential cause.

Baking soda treatment may also be effective for vaginal burning.

To make a douche, combine 1-2 tablespoons of baking soda with warm distilled water. Douche with this solution twice weekly for 2 weeks.

To make a suppository, fill a gelatin capsule (available at health food stores) with baking soda and insert the capsule into the vagina. Insert one capsule into the vagina twice weekly for 2 weeks.

Cytolytic vaginosis can also cause an increase in vaginal discharge. Discharge may be watery and thin or thick and curd-like.

Excessive discharge commonly occurs with yeast infections, bacterial vaginosis, and trichomoniasis, so consult with a doctor or other healthcare professional to rule these out.

Discharge due to cytolytic vaginosis shouldn’t contain any yeast, as Lactobacilli bacteria compete with the yeast for nutrients.

Lactobacilli bacteria are a part of a healthy vaginal environment and can protect against many harmful microorganisms.

Overgrowth of the bacteria can cause the epithelial lining of the vaginal walls to dissolve, and the cell remains shed within the excessive vaginal discharge.

This cellular breakdown can cause pain, itching, and irritation of the vulva and vaginal walls. Cytolytic vaginosis may also cause pain during or after penetrative vaginal sex.

A pelvic exam can help pinpoint the cause of discomfort. Your clinician will likely look for any cellular changes, the presence of white blood cells, or excessive bacteria to help make a diagnosis.

Avoid vaginal sex of any kind until your symptoms resolve.

The vagina is the perfect environment for bacterial attacks. Any tip of the natural flora can trigger a host of different illnesses.

A unique marker of cytolytic vaginosis is symptoms that seem to worsen the week before menstruation. You may also experience some relief once bleeding begins. Menstrual blood has a basic pH and can neutralize an acidic vaginal environment.

Another way to identify cytolytic vaginosis is the resistance to antifungal treatments. A fungus doesn’t cause cytolytic vaginosis, so antifungal medications will not work.

The symptoms of cytolytic vaginosis can be intermittent or chronic. Proper diagnosis is necessary to ensure you get the treatment you need for your specific condition.

You can manage most symptoms with over-the-counter items and a few weeks of consistent care. Certain lifestyle changes can help reduce the frequency and severity of cytolytic vaginosis.

For example:

  • If you use soap in or around the vagina, discontinue use. Only use warm water to clean the vaginal area. You can use a mild pH-balanced soap on the external genitalia, but it isn’t necessary.
  • Discontinue or avoid using scented products — like sprays, wipes, and menstrual products — on or near the vagina and vulva.
  • Consider rinsing the area after strenuous activity, and changing out of any damp or wet clothing as soon as possible.
  • Switch to breathable cotton underwear or go commando while you sleep to allow the area to “breathe.”

You may need a new treatment plan if your symptoms don’t improve after 3 to 4 weeks of consistent care. Consult with a doctor or another healthcare professional so that they can rule out other conditions to provide the most effective treatment for your situation.

Catasha Gordon is a sexuality educator from Spencer, Oklahoma. She’s the owner and founder of Expression Over Repression, a company built around sexual expression and knowledge. You can typically find her creating sex education materials or building some kinky hardware in a fresh set of coffin nails. She enjoys catfish (tail on), gardening, eating off her husband’s plate, and Beyoncé. Follow her everywhere.