Vaginal Yeast Infection - Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment
What is vaginal yeast infection?
A vaginal yeast infection is a type of vaginitis — inflammation of the vagina — characterized by vaginal irritation, intense itchiness and vaginal discharge. A vaginal yeast infection affects your vagina and the tissues at the opening to your vagina (vulva).
Vaginal yeast infection — also called vaginal candidiasis — is very common. As many as 3 out of 4 women experience a yeast infection at some point in their lifetimes. Many women experience two or more yeast infections.
A vaginal yeast infection isn't considered a sexually transmitted infection, although the fungus that causes the condition can be spread through oral-genital contact. Simple treatment is usually effective, unless you have recurrent yeast infections — four or more in a single year. In that case, you may need a longer course of therapy and a maintenance plan.
What are vaginal yeast infection causes?
Many things can raise your risk of a vaginal yeast infection, such as:
- Lack of sleep
- Poor eating habits, including eating extreme amounts of sugary foods
- Having your period
- Taking certain medicines, including birth control pills, antibiotics, and steroids
- Diseases such as poorly controlled diabetes and HIV/AIDS
- Hormonal changes during your periods
What are vaginla yeast infection symtpoms?
Yeast infection symptoms can range from mild to moderate and include:
- Itching and irritation in the vagina and at the entrance to the vagina (vulva)
- A burning sensation, especially during intercourse or while urinating
- Redness and swelling of the vulva
- Vaginal pain and soreness
- Thick, white, odor-free vaginal discharge with a cottage cheese appearance
You might have a complicated yeast infection if:
- You have severe signs and symptoms, such as extensive redness, swelling and itching that leads to the development of tears or cracks (fissures) or sores
- You have recurrent yeast infections — four or more in a single year
- Your infection is caused by a type of candida other than Candida albicans
- You're pregnant
- You have uncontrolled diabetes
- You have lowered immunity due to use of certain medications or a condition such as HIV infection
How is vaginal yeast infection diagnosed?
Your doctor will do a pelvic exam to look for swelling and discharge. Your doctor may also use a swab to take a fluid sample from your vagina. A quick look with a microscope or a lab test will show if yeast is causing the problem.
What's the treatment of vaginal yeast infection?
Yeast infections can be cured with antifungal medicines that come as:
- Ointments or suppositories that are inserted into the vagina
These products can be bought over the counter at the drug store or grocery store. Your doctor can also prescribe you a single dose of oral fluconazole (floo-con-uh-zohl). But do not use this drug if you are pregnant.
Infections that don’t respond to these medicines are starting to be more common. Using antifungal medicines when you don't really have a yeast infection can raise your risk of getting a hard-to-treat infection in the future.
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