A vaginal yeast infection is irritation of the vagina and the outside area around it, called the vulva.
A yeast infection is caused by an overgrowth of fungus that is normally found in small amounts in the vagina.
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
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
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 .
An anti-fungal medicine can treat the infection. Most will be an over-the-counter medicine. A more severe infection may need prescription medicine. It may be available as pills or creams.
Probiotics may alos be helpful. It may reduce the infection when used with medicine.
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.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 05/2018 -
- Update Date: 09/12/2016 -