What is Cytolytic Vaginosis?

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  • Written By: Marjorie McAtee
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 22 July 2019
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Cytolytic vaginosis is a type of vaginosis generally caused by excessive growth of lactobacilli inside the vagina. Lactobacilli usually form part of the vagina's normal flora, and there are many different strains of lactobacilli inside the normal vagina. This condition often causes the pH inside the vagina to be lower than normal, and can lead to symptoms including itching, redness, and discharge. Symptoms often worsen as the menstrual cycle progresses, with most women experiencing relief from symptoms once the menstrual flow starts. Cytolytic vaginosis is not a sexually transmitted disease, and most doctors don't even consider it an infection, because it occurs when excessive amounts of normal vaginal lactobacilli accumulate.

Many women, and even physicians, aren't aware that cytolytic vaginosis exists. The condition is often misdiagnosed as candidiasis vaginitis, or vaginal yeast infection. Women who continue to suffer from symptoms of vaginal itching, inflammation, and discharge, despite attempted treatment with anti-fungal preparations, may in fact be suffering from cytolytic vaginosis.

Common symptoms of this condition can include itching and inflammation of the vulva. Discharge may be lumpy and thick, or thin and watery. In severe cases, pain with urination or pain with intercourse can occur.


The symptoms of cytolytic vaginosis often occur cyclically. Symptoms usually appear after the menstrual flow ceases, and may steadily worsen until the menstrual flow begins again. The menstrual flow can relieve symptoms because it changes the vaginal pH.

Physicians often can't pinpoint a cause for this condition. Factors that can contribute to the overgrowth of lactobacilli inside the vagina can include hormonal changes, sexual activity, pregnancy, or use of contraception. Treatment generally seeks to restore the vaginal pH to a normal level.

While other types of vaginosis may be treated with antibiotics or anti-fungal medications, cytolytic vaginosis is usually treated with baking soda suppositories, vaginal douches, or sitz bathes. Women are generally advised to try sitz baths first, since these are least irritating to the inflamed vulvar tissues. Two to four spoonfuls of baking soda are usually dissolved in a bathtub filled with a few inches of warm water. Patients are generally advised to sit in this solution for at least 15 minutes, twice a day, to help restore normal vaginal pH.

If sitz baths aren't successfully, baking soda douches or suppositories might help. Douches can be made by mixing one or two spoonfuls of baking soda in a pint (0.47 liters) of warm water. Suppositories can be made by filling gelatin capsules with baking soda. A paste of baking soda and water might be used to relieve external itching and inflammation.


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Post 4

Actually, I believe I have had this although no doctor could diagnose it. Yes, the baking soda helped, but did not get rid of it completely. Doxycycline did. You can buy doxy from a pet food store. It is sold for fish. I found an article that indicated doxy was the treatment. Maybe your doctor will write you a script but if not, you have to take matters into your own hands. It is a terrible thing to have.

Post 3

@alisha-- My best friend is using a lubricant that's used for fertility. Apparently the pH of the lubricant is the same as a woman's natural pH and it helps relieve some of the symptoms of bacterial vaginosis. Maybe you should try it.

Post 2

@alisha-- I used to have cytolytic vaginosis too and baking soda treated it. I remember feeling better after my first bath with it, so I don't think it should take time to show effects.

Cytolytic vaginosis is very difficult to deal with, especially because it is misdiagnosed all the time. It usually gets diagnosed as a yeast infection but it's the exact opposite of a yeast infection. So the medications given for it make things even worse.

It's bad that diagnosis is so difficult, but it's good that the treatment is so easy.

Post 1

I've finally been diagnosed with cytolytic vaginosis. I had symptoms of it for months, but my doctor wasn't able to diagnose me. All my tests for fungal and bacterial vaginal infections were coming back negative and I thought I was losing my mind.

Finally, he consulted with another doctor and they came to the conclusion that I have cytolytic vaginosis. I've been doing baking soda baths and suppositories regularly for the past week, but so far there is no improvement. Does it usually take a while for the baking soda to show its effect?

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