A vaginal yeast infection is irritation of the vagina and outer area called the vulva.
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This condition is caused by a fungus. The fungus is normally found in the vagina in small amounts. When too much of it grows and spreads, it causes symptoms.
Things that can raise the risk are:
- Hormone changes from pregnancy or birth control pills
- A weak immune system
- Uncontrolled diabetes
- Family history of frequent yeast infections
- Certain medicines such as:
- Broad-spectrum antibiotics
- Corticosteroids—taken by mouth for a long time
- Douches to rinse out the vagina
A vaginal yeast infection may cause:
- Mild to severe itching
- A thick, white, lumpy vaginal discharge
- Soreness, irritation, or burning
- Rash or redness on the skin outside the vagina
- Painful urination
- Painful sex
The doctor will ask about symptoms and past health. A vaginal swab will be taken to confirm the diagnosis.
Yeast infections are treated with medicine. It may be available as pills or creams.
Probiotics may also be helpful when used with medicine.
To lower the risk of a yeast infection:
- Dry the vaginal area well after a shower, bath, or swim.
- Do not douche.
- If diabetic, try to control blood sugar.
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
Blostein F, Levin-Sparenberg E. Recurrent vulvovaginal candidiasis. Ann Epidemiol. 2017 Sep;27(9):575-582.
Vaginal yeast infection. Office on Women's Health website. Available at: http://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/vaginal-yeast-infections.html. Accessed January 21, 2021.
Vulvovaginal candidiasis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/vulvovaginal-candidiasis Accessed January 21, 2021.
Yeast infections. American Academy of Family Physicians Family Doctor website. Available at: http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/diseases-conditions/yeast-infections.html. Accessed January 21, 2021.
1/21/2021 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance. https://www.dynamed.com/condition/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: EBSCO Medical Review Board Mary Beth Seymour, RN
- Review Date: 01/2021
- Update Date: 01/21/2021