It’s been determined that something is causing discomfort in the vagina, and while it’s been narrowed it down to either a yeast infection or bacterial vaginosis (BV), obviously want to know exactly which is it so treatment can start. Patients can always schedule an appointment with your primary care doctor or OB/GYN, but for the gals on the go, there are plenty of effective over-the-counter (OTC) tests that can provide insight on what’s happening down there. It’s important to know if a person had yeast infection or BV because the treatments for both are different, and a misdiagnosis can lead to not getting better and perhaps further complications.
So how do these OTC tests work? It’s simple! They measure the pH levels, how acidic or basic a liquid is, in your vaginal secretions. A healthy vagina has a pH level of around 3.8 – 4.5, which is about the same pH as coffee. Though, that’s neither here nor there and your vagina is nothing like a coffee bean, so don’t worry about that. A pH level higher than 4.5 is a strong indication of BV or a common parasitic STD called trichomoniasis or “trich” for short. In that case, it’s best to see your doctor to get antibiotics or if you have chronic BV, boric acid. If your test results show a normal pH level, you likely have a yeast infection and can buy OTC antifungal remedies.
Your vaginal pH can fluctuate based on different factors including if you’ve douched recently, are on your period, are pregnant, or going through menopause. But if you’re experiencing vaginal discomfort and any of those apply to you, it isn’t reason to ignore your symptoms. Often the imbalance in pH from those experiences are what allow BV to spread.
At home test kits save you time, and a recent study by Temple University School of Medicine determined they can save you up to 16% of what you’d be spending by visiting a doctor or urgent care facility.
Let’s take a look at your options for OTC tests that will allow you to purchase the correct treatment and get you feeling better faster.
MONISTAT VAGINAL HEALTH TEST ($19)
With this test you insert a small yellow swab into your vagina, and if it turns green or blue it is a sign of abnormal vaginal pH. You’ll receive immediate results, but unfortunately and obviously, you won’t receive more specific guidance based on your test results.
CVS Health Feminine Screening Kit for Vaginal Infections ($15)
Most pharmacy-brand vaginal health kits hover around $11-$15 and work similarly to the Monistat test. They alert you to more alkaline pH levels in your vagina which is indicative of BV.