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Vaginal Yeast Infection

Definition

A vaginal yeast infection is irritation of the vagina and the outside area around it, called the vulva.

Vagina
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Causes

A yeast infection is caused by an overgrowth of fungus that is normally found in small amounts in the vagina.

Risk Factors

Factors that may increase your chance of a yeast infection include:

  • Situations that can cause hormonal changes, such as birth control pills , pregnancy, or menopause
  • Broad-spectrum antibiotics
  • Douching—irrigating the vagina
  • Diabetes, especially when blood sugar is not well-controlled
  • A compromised immune system from health conditions, such as HIV infection or chronic use of oral steroid medication

Symptoms

A vaginal yeast infection may cause:

  • Mild to severe itching
  • A clumpy vaginal discharge that may look like cottage cheese
  • Soreness, irritation, or burning
  • Rash or redness on the skin outside the vagina
  • Painful urination
  • Painful sexual intercourse

Diagnosis

You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. A swab test of vaginal discharge will taken to confirm the diagnosis.

It is important to see a doctor if you have symptoms. Other health conditions, such as sexually transmitted diseases, have symptoms that are similar to a yeast infection. These can include bacterial vaginosis , chlamydia , or gonorrhea .

Treatment

Medication

Depending on the severity of the infection, your doctor may recommend over-the-counter or prescription antifungal medication. Antifungal medications are available as oral tablets, intravaginal creams, or suppositories.

Prevention

To help reduce your chance of a yeast infection:

  • Dry the outside vaginal area thoroughly after a shower, bath, or swim.
  • Don't douche.
  • If you have diabetes, try to control your blood sugar.
  • Avoid frequent or prolonged use of antibiotics if possible.

Revision Information

  • American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

    http://www.acog.org

  • Women's Health—US Department of Health and Human Services

    http://www.womenshealth.gov

  • The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada

    http://www.sogc.org

  • Women's Health Matters

    http://www.womenshealthmatters.ca

  • Vaginal yeast infection. Office on Women's Health website. Available at: http://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/vaginal-yeast-infections.html. Updated January 6, 2015. Accessed June 7, 2016.

  • Vulvovaginal candidiasis. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116590/Vulvovaginal-candidiasis. Updated April 27, 2016. Accessed June 7, 2016.

  • Yeast infections. American Academy of Family Physicians Family Doctor website. Available at: http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/diseases-conditions/yeast-infections.html. Updated April 2014. Accessed June 7, 2016.