Definition

A vaginal yeast infection is irritation of the vagina and the outside area around it, called the vulva.

Vagina

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Causes

A yeast infection is caused by an overgrowth of fungus that is normally found in small amounts in the vagina.

Risk Factors

Factors that may increase your chance of a yeast infection include:

    
  • Situations that can cause hormonal changes, such as birth control pills , pregnancy, menopause , or steroid use
  • Broad-spectrum antibiotics
  • Douching
  • Diabetes , especially when blood sugar is not well-controlled
  • A compromised immune system from health conditions such as HIV
  • Symptoms

    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
  • Diagnosis

    Your doctor will ask 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 .

    Treatment

    Medication

    Depending on the severity of the infection, your doctor may recommend over-the-counter or prescription antifungal medication. Antifungal medications are available as oral tablets, intravaginal creams, or suppositories.

    If you are diagnosed with a yeast infection, follow your doctor's instructions .

    Prevention

    To help reduce your chance of getting a yeast infection, take these steps:

        
  • Dry the outside vaginal area thoroughly after a shower, bath, or swim.
  • Don't douche unless your doctor tells you to do so.
  • If you have diabetes, try to control your blood sugar.
  • Avoid frequent or prolonged use of antibiotics if possible.