A vaginal yeast infection is irritation of the vagina and the outside area around it, called the vulva.
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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.
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: https://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.
6/29/2018 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance https://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116590/Vulvovaginal-candidiasis : Xie HY, Feng D, Wei DM, et al. Probiotics for vulvovaginal candidiasis in non-pregnant women. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2017;11:CD010496.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 05/2018
- Update Date: 09/12/2016