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Yeast Infection

What is it?
Several different fungi may cause yeast infections but the most common one is Candida albicans. Because of this, a yeast infection is often called Candidiasis. It is normal to have small amounts of yeast in the vagina; a yeast infection occurs when the yeast 'overgrows,' taking over the vagina. Yeast infections are not sexually transmitted. Whether a woman has sex with men or women does not affect her likelihood of having a yeast infection. Yeast infections may be associated with:

  • taking antibiotics
  • taking birth control pills
  • diabetes
  • pregnancy
  • stress
  • tampon use
  • douching
  • lowered immune system

What are the symptoms?
Symptoms include:

  • a curdy-white vaginal discharge
  • vaginal itching
  • burning
  • redness
  • swelling around the genitals
  • painful intercourse

How is it diagnosed?
A swab of the vagina will show yeast when examined in the laboratory.

Are there any complications?
A vaginal area that is raw and red from yeast is more susceptible to other infections.

How is it treated?
Lactobacilli capsules into the vagina at bedtime can make the vagina less likely to grow yeast. Yeast infections are usually treated with suppositories or creams that can be inserted in the vagina at bedtime. These can be used even during your menstrual period. You can buy these treatments over-the-counter without a prescription if you have had a yeast infection before and recognize the symptoms. Symptoms of other infections can resemble yeast infections, so it is important to see a doctor if it is your first infection or if you are at all unsure. Your doctor can also prescribe pills for a yeast infection.

Should my partner be checked or treated?
Only if he or she has symptoms.

How can I protect myself from yeast infections?
Keep the vaginal area clean. Wear cotton underwear and loose fitting clothes. Tampons may also increase the risk of a yeast infection. Avoid using irritating sprays, douches, perfumed soaps, bath oils and salts in the genital area.

Women who have repeated yeast infections may experience fewer infections if they eat yogurt containing the bacteria Lactobacillus acidophilus regularly. Lactobacilli are the type of bacteria normally found in a healthy vagina. Lactobacilli capsules can be purchased in the health food section of the grocery store.

 

 

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Yeast infection

  • A publication of:
  • Women's College Hospital