A vaginal yeast infection is irritation of the vagina and the area around the vagina,
called the vulva. It is caused by an overgrowth of the fungus or yeast Candida.
Yeast normally live in the vagina in small numbers, but when the bacteria in the
vagina become out of balance, to many yeast grow and cause an infection. Vaginal
yeast infections are very common . About 75 percent of women have a yeast
infection during their lives, and almost half of women have two or more yeast
The most common symptom of a yeast infection is extreme itchiness in and around
the vagina. Other symptoms include:
- Burning, redness, and swelling of the vagina and the area around it.
- Pain when urinating.
- Pain or discomfort during sex.
- A thick, white vaginal discharge that looks like cottage cheese and does have a bad smell.
You may only have a few of these symptoms and they may be mild or severe.
You need to see your doctor to know for sure if you have a yeast infection,
especially if you’ve never had one before. The signs of a yeast infection are
similar to those of sexually transmitted diseases (STD’s) like chlamydia and
gonorrhea. So, it’s hard to be sure you have a yeast infection and not something
more serious. If you’ve had a yeast infection in the past, talk to your doctor about
using over-the-counter medicines.
Your doctor will do a pelvic exam to look for swelling and discharge. Your doctor
may also use a swab to take a sample from the vagina. A quick look under the
microscope or a lab test will show if yeast is causing the problem. Yeast infections
can be cured with antifungal medicines in the form of creams, tablets, ointments or
suppositories that are inserted into the vagina. These products can be bought over the
counter at drug stores. Your doctor can also prescribe you a single dose of oral
medication. Infections that do not respond to these medications are becoming more
common. Using antifungal medicines when you don’t really have a yeast infection can
boost your risk of getting a hard to treat infection in the future.