Strep Vagina – It’s Possible

Women's Health | | Natasha Weiss
9 min read

This article was medically fact-checked by Women’s health expert and Gynaecologist Dr. Alyssa Dweck.

We’re going to start this out with a little story.

I have a friend of a friend that would get chronic yeast infections. Let’s call her Polly. 

Polly would often get them after she had sex. Which was frequent. Her diet of coffee, cheese sticks, and cigarettes definitely didn’t help her system stay balanced either.

One time, thinking she had a yeast infection, she turned to her go-to treatments and creams. 

None of them worked. 

After going too long in vag-onizing discomfort, Polly finally went to the doctor.

After a swabbing and testing, Polly’s doctor found out that she didn’t have a yeast infection this time afterall. 

She had a strep infection. In her vagina. 

Like strep throat, but in her vagina!!!

I’m a little ashamed to admit that upon hearing this, I burst into laughter. Given the context and absurdity of it, I couldn’t help but crack up.

After regaining my composure, I began to ask questions. 

As a reproductive health writer and educator, I took it upon myself to dive in and find out exactly the how, what, and why of strep vaginas. 

When in Labor Land

In my work as a birth doula, I’ve worked with many clients that have had Group B Strep, or GBS, bacteria present in their vagina. If they’re birthing in a hospital, that typically means administering a round of an antibiotic, usually Penicillin, every four or so hours.

Around 25% of women have GBS in their vagina, but it’s rare that this will cause complications with the pregnancy or baby, and even rarer when antibiotics are used. 

Despite having this knowledge, it still came as a shock to me that someone could have a strep infection in their vagina. Logically of course, it makes total sense.

Understanding Strep Bacteria

If you’re familiar with the vaginal flora, and the microbiomes we have in our bodies, it probably comes at no surprise that we are hosts to a myriad of different kinds of bacteria, including streptococcus.  There are four different groups of strep bacteria: A, B, C and G. 

For the most part, people cohabitate peacefully with strep bacteria in their bodies. On occasion, it can get a little out of hand, and cause infections.  Many of us have had strep throat, which is usually caused by Group A.  Group B is most dangerous for infants, although in adults it can cause skin, blood, and bone infections. Group C infections are rare, as it’s typically transmitted from contact with animals like cows or horses. 

Group G strep infections are also not very common, however, rates of infections have increased in recent years. Group G however is commonly found in the flora of the human skin, oral cavity, nasopharynx, gastrointestinal tract, and vagina. This is normal, although can lead to infection in some cases.

How Can it Affect Your Vagina? 

For prepubescent girls, Group A strep is a recognized cause of vaginitis. Now researchers are finding that it can also affect adults with vaginas (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21336834). Because of a lack of research and understanding, these women are often misdiagnosed as having vulvovaginal candidosis. A different kind of bacterial imbalance.  Bacteria are friendly, and like to get around. If someone in your household, especially someone you’re intimate with is a carrier of Group A strep, it’s possible they could transmit it to you. 

Given the high prevalence of Group B strep, it’s not usually attributed to causing infections. Even when it is present in women with vulvovaginal symptoms. Doctors are even more cautious about diagnosing on the basis of Group B strep because levels of it can vary through a woman’s menstrual cycle, and other hormonal shifts like pregnancy. 

Although some levels of Group G strep are normal, this strain can lead to severe infection, which could possibly occur in the genitals. Vaginal strep infections are rare. Given symptoms like abnormal discharge, swelling, and redness, that are similar to other vaginal infections, it can make it almost impossible to diagnose strep vagina without a bacterial culture. Even with a culture, strep isn’t usually the first thing a doctor will test for. Meaning like Polly, people often won’t find out until initial treatments don’t work, and symptoms worsen. 

Technically called Strep A or B Vaginitis, this is not a sexually transmitted disease. However, in a small sample, researchers found that sexual contact may increase the transmission of GBS amongst heterosexual couples. 

Who Gets Strep Vagina?

The risk of GBS infections increases with age. As with any infection, you are also at a greater risk if you are immuno-compromised, or don’t have the healthiest lifestyle. Like our friend Polly.  Colonization of Group A strep, is more common in people with other skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis, or open sores. Strep bacteria can also travel to the urethra, and cause painful urinary tract infections.

How It’s Treated

Most likely with antibiotics. Even if symptoms start out on the mild side, strep infections can be serious, and potentially life-threatening if they spread to the blood and other areas of the body. The kind of antibiotic prescribed will depend on what type of strep is present, and other health factors your doctor may take into account.

Oh and about Polly?

Thanks for asking. 

She went on antibiotics, and her and her vagina are back to their normal, healthy selves.  

I have a friend of a friend that would get chronic yeast infections. Let’s call her Polly. 

Polly would often get them after she had sex. Which was frequent. Her diet of coffee, cheese sticks, and cigarettes definitely didn’t help her system stay balanced either.

One time, thinking she had a yeast infection, she turned to her go-to treatments and creams. 

None of them worked. 

After going too long in vag-onizing discomfort, Polly finally went to the doctor.

After swabbing and testing, Polly’s doctor found out that she didn’t have a yeast infection this time after all. 

She had a strep infection. In her vagina. 

Similar to strep throat, but in her vagina!!! 

The strain of strep causing strep throat (group A) and usually discussed vaginal strep (group B strep ) are not the same strain.

I’m a little ashamed to admit that upon hearing this, I burst into laughter. Given the context and absurdity of it, I couldn’t help but crack up.

After regaining my composure, I began to ask questions. 

As a reproductive health writer and educator, I took it upon myself to dive in and find out exactly the how, what, and why of strep vaginas. 

When in Labor Land

In my work as a birth doula, I’ve worked with many clients that have had Group B Strep, or GBS, bacteria present in their vagina. If they’re birthing in a hospital, that typically means administering a round of an antibiotic, usually Penicillin, every four or so hours.

Around 25% of women have GBS in their vagina , but it’s rare that this will cause complications with the pregnancy or baby, and even rarer when antibiotics are used. 

Despite having this knowledge, it still came as a shock to me that someone could have a strep infection in their vagina. Logically of course, it makes total sense.

Understanding Strep Bacteria

If you’re familiar with the vaginal flora, and the microbiomes we have in our bodies, it probably comes at no surprise that we are hosts to a myriad of different kinds of bacteria, including streptococcus.  

There are three different groups of strep bacteria: A, B, and C. 

For the most part, people cohabitate peacefully with strep bacteria in their bodies. On occasion, it can get a little out of hand, and cause infections. 

Many of us have had strep throat, which is usually caused by Group A. Group B is most dangerous for infants, although in adults it can cause skin, blood, and bone infections.

Group C infections are rare, as it’s typically transmitted from contact with animals like cows or horses. 

How Can it Affect Your Vagina? 

For prepubescent girls, Group A strep is a recognized cause of vaginitis. Now researchers are finding that it can also affect adults with vaginas. Because of a lack of research and understanding, these women are often misdiagnosed as having vulvovaginal candidosis. A different kind of bacterial imbalance. 

Bacteria are friendly and like to get around. If someone in your household, especially someone you’re intimate with is a carrier of Group A strep, it’s possible they could transmit it to you. 

Given the high prevalence of Group B strep, it’s not usually attributed to causing infections. Even when it is present in women with vulvovaginal symptoms. Doctors are even more cautious about diagnosing on the basis of Group B strep because levels of it can vary through a woman’s menstrual cycle, and other hormonal shifts like pregnancy. 

Vaginal strep infections are rare. Given symptoms like abnormal discharge, swelling, and redness, that are similar to other vaginal infections, it can make it almost impossible to diagnose strep vagina without a bacterial culture. Even with a culture, strep isn’t usually the first thing a doctor will test for.

Meaning like Polly, people often won’t find out until initial treatments don’t work, and symptoms worsen. 

Technically called Strep A or B Vaginitis, this is not a sexually transmitted disease. However, in a small sample, researchers found that sexual contact may increase transmission of GBS amongst heterosexual couples. 

Who Gets Strep Vagina?

The risk of GBS infections increases with age. As with any infection, you are also at greater risk if you are immuno-compromised, or don’t have the healthiest lifestyle. Like our friend Polly. 

Colonization of Group A strep, is more common in people with other skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis, or open sores. Strep bacteria can also travel to the urethra, and cause painful urinary tract infections.

How It’s Treated

Most likely with antibiotics. Even if symptoms start out on the mild side, strep infections can be serious, and potentially life threatening if they spread to the blood and other areas of the body.

The kind of antibiotic prescribed will depend on what type of strep is present, and other health factors your doctor may take into account.

Oh and about Polly?

Thanks for asking. 

She went on antibiotics, and she and her vagina are back to their normal, healthy selves.

Facts checked by:

Dr. Alyssa Dweck

Dr. Alyssa Dweck

Alyssa Dweck MS, MD, FACOG is a practicing gynecologist in Westchester County, New York. She provides care to women of all ages; she has delivered thousands of babies. She is proficient in minimally invasive surgery and has special interest and expertise in female sexual health and medical sex therapy. She is top doctor in New York Magazine and Westchester Magazine. Dr. Dweck has co-authored three books including the most recent release The Complete A to Z For Your V.

Website | Twitter

Written by:

16 thoughts on “Strep Vagina – It’s Possible

  • Canan says:

    I have strep a for over 2 years and it’s affecting my life style and I am really bad I have used Pencilin treatment for several times but doesn’t work I want to have baby but cannot get pragnant please could you advice me on what to do I really need help

    • INTIMINA says:

      Hi Canan! Unfortunately, I’m not able to answer those questions for you. It would be best to speak to a fertility specialist about your medical history – they’ll be able to guide you!

      • Toni says:

        Hi Canan said that she has had strep for two years. How long does it take to get rid of it and if its vaginal, how likely is it to be passed to a sexual partner?

      • Jen says:

        Hi i was told by my doctor I had Strep Group G, I am currently pregnant too is this an issue?

        • Intimina says:

          Hi Jen,

          thank you. Please contact your doctor one more time, they would probably tell you the answer. Pregnancy is a fragile period, you must talk to a specialist about every detail.
          Best regards

    • Amanda says:

      Did you find out anything? I’m battling this and desperate for answers.

      • Intimina says:

        Hi Amanda,

        thank you for this question. Your doctor will know more for sure, please do not hesitate to ask.

        Best regards

  • Sam says:

    Hi! Recently found out I have strep b vaginally and am being treated, was just wondering if it can pass between partners easily if one is infected??

  • Avalanna says:

    Hi so I had strep throat I haven’t gone to the doctors the person who gave it to me he and I were intimate and he had gone down on me well I have more discharge and it smells should I go to the doctors I don’t really have money for it right now but do you think I could have strep down there

    • Intimina says:

      Hi Avalanna,

      unfortunately, we can not give you medical advice, your doctor should do it. So yes, please talk to the professional and take care of your health.

      Goo luck and have a great day

  • Erin Branham says:

    Why do you even have the Section Because every reply you give tells people to ask their doctor

    • Intimina says:

      Dear Erin,

      we understand, but when it comes to matters that can affect a person’s health, we will refer you to a doctor rather than give solutions that are not adequate. We hope you understand.

      Have a great day

  • Ada says:

    I have had Strep in my rectum for three years now, is there any way I can solve this? I suffer every day when I have to use the restroom. Please, anything helps, thank you

  • Jackie says:

    I have just been reading up about this as I have a strep A vaginal infection. It’s quite rare in adult women, so we’re quite exclusive! If you have a recurring infection you should ask your doctor to check out both you and your partner for strep A in your throat, intestines, rectum, etc. this medical article on the internet explains it in case study 1 :
    ‘Recurrent Group A Streptococcal Vulvovaginitis in Adult Women: Family Epidemiology’
    You could show it to your doctor. It turned out her husband had strep in his intestines and that was why she kept catching it, through intercourse/close proximity to his anus. It took a bit of detective work to get to the bottom of it.
    I hope this helps those of you with recurrent infections, especially the lady who would like to start a family.
    All the best

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.