Cytolytic Vaginosis – Everything You Need to Know!

Cytolytic vaginosis is a vaginal infection caused by inflammation of the vagina, which causes a chemical reaction compared to the maturing of milk. The common symptoms include abnormal discharge, burning or discomfort while urinating or during intercourse, and pain while having sex. While there is no cure for cytolytic vaginosis, you can use self-help methods and prescription treatments to eliminate this condition.

Table of Contents

What Is Cytolytic Vaginosis?

Cytolytic vaginosis is a condition that causes a fishy odor in the vagina. It’s not particularly serious, but it can be uncomfortable and embarrassing. Cytolytic vaginosis is an overgrowth of certain bacteria in the vagina, which causes inflammation and irritation. This leads to an unpleasant fishy odor that can become stronger when you’re menstruating (menstrual bleeding). The condition is also known as bacterial vaginosis, trichomoniasis, or Gardnerella vaginalis infection.

The vagina is a delicate ecosystem that relies on a specific balance of good and bad bacteria. The balance allows a few species of bacteria to flourish and keeps others in check. When this balance is disrupted, problems can arise.

This imbalance may result in thinning of the vaginal walls and discharge from the vagina. It is a common condition that affects women of all ages but is most common in pregnant or postpartum women (after childbirth). However, it can occur at any time during your reproductive years if you have another condition that weakens your immune system.

What Causes Cytolytic Vaginosis?

Cytolytic Vaginosis is a condition that occurs when there are too many white blood cells in the vagina. It’s caused by an imbalance of bacteria, which can cause painful symptoms like itching, burning, and redness.

A bacterial imbalance in the body causes cytolytic vaginosis. When there are too many white blood cells present, this causes inflammation and swelling of the vaginal walls. This can cause pain during intercourse or urination and discharge with a foul smell.

The condition is not considered a sexually transmitted disease (STD), as it’s not passed between partners during sexual intercourse. However, it can be passed between family members or children in daycare settings if they share towels or diapers.

People with STDs such as gonorrhea, chlamydia, and trichomoniasis are at an increased risk of developing cytolytic vaginosis. The condition is sometimes called “yeast syndrome” because it’s often seen alongside these infections.

What Are the Symptoms of Cytolytic Vaginosis?

The most common symptom of Cytolytic Vaginosis is excess white discharge that smells fishy. It can also cause itching and irritation. This result is an overgrowth of harmful bacteria that can cause symptoms such as painful sex and unusual discharge.

It’s important to note that Cytolytic Vaginosis is not caused by poor hygiene or sexual contact. An imbalance in your vagina’s natural bacterial flora causes it, so you don’t have to worry about being dirty or promiscuous. If you’re experiencing these symptoms, it’s not your fault! The reality is it is from a low pH and over-acidification.

The condition is characterized by an overgrowth of bacteria in the vagina. This causes inflammation and irritation of the vagina, which can lead to symptoms such as:

  • Burning sensation during urination or sexual intercourse
  • Itching or irritation in the vaginal area
  • Vaginal discharge that smells fishy and looks like cottage cheese
  • Soreness and itchiness of the external genitals (vulva)
  • Pain during intercourse
  • Painful periods (menstruation)

What Are the Risk Factors for Cytolytic Vaginosis?

Some risk factors for developing cytolytic vaginosis include:

  • Not an STD – Sex with multiple partners
  • Menopause – Low levels of estrogen in the body (such as menopause)
  • Age – The older you are, the more likely you’ll develop cytolytic vaginosis.
  • History of recurrent yeast infections – If you’ve had several yeast infections in the past, there’s a good chance you’ll develop this condition again in the future.
  • Pregnancy – Pregnant women who experience vaginal irritation or discharge may be at higher risk for developing this condition.
  • Use of antibiotics – Taking antibiotics can alter the composition of your vaginal flora and make it more susceptible to infection by Candida albicans and other fungi.

How Is Cytolytic Vaginosis Diagnosed?

Cytolytic vaginosis is a condition that can be diagnosed with a pelvic exam and a lab test that can be performed on your vaginal discharge.

A pelvic exam will involve the doctor inserting a speculum into your vagina to examine the cells and tissues of your cervix. This can help them observe any unusual changes in color or consistency.

In addition to this, they’ll also take a sample of your vaginal discharge to send to the lab for testing. This will help them identify specific bacteria or yeast strains to determine whether or not they have cytolytic vaginosis.

How to Treat Cytolytic Vaginosis?

There are many ways to treat Cytolytic Vaginosis. Some women prefer to treat their cases at home, while others prefer to see a doctor. In any case, it is essential to understand the treatment options available and make an informed decision.

Cytolytic Vaginosis is a type of vaginitis treated with an antibiotic called metronidazole. It’s a common condition and can be easily cured, but there are some things you need to know.

If your doctor thinks you have Cytolytic Vaginosis, they will probably prescribe metronidazole or tinidazole. These medications help fight the infection and eliminate any inflammation in the vagina.

You will likely have to take some antibiotics for at least two weeks, but you might need to take them longer if your symptoms don’t go away after the first few weeks. If this happens, talk with your doctor about what options are available for you and how long you should expect to take antibiotics.

  • Antibiotics: Antibiotics are used to treat bacterial infections. They can be used either in combination with other treatments or on their own.
  • Antifungal creams: Antifungal creams are usually applied directly to the vagina to kill any fungi present in the area and prevent further infection. They can also be taken orally if you have developed oral thrush due to this condition or if your doctor suspects it may also spread to other parts of your body.
  • Gentle soap: Use a gentle soap instead of harsh soaps or bubble baths;
  • Periodic douching
  • Cotton Underwear: Wear cotton underwear instead of synthetic fabrics.
  • Avoid using scented tampons or pads.
  • Sitz bath: soaking in a baking soda sitz bath can help.

When to See a Doctor?

There’s no need to see a doctor if you have mild symptoms. But if it’s severe, see your doctor as soon as possible.

You should also see a doctor if:

  • You have had symptoms for more than two weeks with no improvement.
  • You have pain during sex or urination.
  • You have a fever, chills, and other signs of infection such as abdominal pain or vomiting.

Get Help From an Online Doctor

Telemedicine (online doctors) is a growing trend in healthcare that allows patients to receive medical care remotely. The convenience of telemedicine means you can get help from an online doctor without having to schedule an appointment or travel to the office. Telemedicine is beneficial for people who live in rural areas where doctors and specialists can be hard to come by.

Telemedicine platforms like DrHouse allow you to talk with an experienced physician over video chat from the comfort of your home or office. 

Here are some of the benefits of telemedicine:

  • No need for travel – You don’t have to take time off work or wait for hours at a doctor’s office to get essential medical advice. With telemedicine, you can talk with an online doctor from anywhere with an internet connection.
  • Lower costs – Telemedicine saves money by reducing the overhead costs associated with brick-and-mortar clinics and hospitals. 
  • Convenient access – Telemedicine platforms like DrHouse allow you to access medical care 24/7 through any device connected to the internet (laptop, desktop computer, cell phone).
  • Private – Your information is kept confidential since there are no face-to-face meetings with your doctor or anyone else involved in your care. This makes telemedicine ideal for those seeking discretion when seeking treatment for sensitive issues such as mental health issues or sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
  • Faster access to care – Patients don’t need to travel long distances, so they can get help faster than if they had to. This reduces appointment wait times, saving time and money for both patients and providers.
  • Improved patient satisfaction – Telemedicine helps ensure that all patients receive quality care because it allows them access to top experts regardless of where they live or work. 

Key Takeaways

Cytolytic vaginosis is not uncommon, although it can be confused with candidiasis due to similar discharge. If you are not getting any relief, go back to your physician to see if your symptoms are actually cytolytic vaginosis. 


  • Anupama Suresh, Aparna Rajesh, Ramesh M. Bhat, Yashaswi Rai (2009). Cytolytic vaginosis: A review,  30(1): 48–50. PMCID: PMC3168042.
  • Krishnendra Varma, Mansi Kansal​ (2022). Cytolytic vaginosis: A brief review. Doi: 10.25259/JSSTD_41_2021

Content on the DrHouse website is written by our medical content team and reviewed by qualified MDs, PhDs, NPs, and PharmDs. We follow strict content creation guidelines to ensure accurate medical information. However, this content is for informational purposes only and not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. For more information read our medical disclaimer.

Always consult with your physician or other qualified health providers about medical concerns. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking it based on what you read on this website.

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