A vaginal yeast infection is irritation of the vagina and the outside area around it, called the vulva.
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 .
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.
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.
- Reviewer: Andrea Chisholm, MD
- Review Date: 06/2015 -
- Update Date: 05/11/2013 -