Yeast Infection

A vaginal yeast infection is a fungal infection that causes irritation, discharge and intense itchiness of the vagina and the vulva — the tissues at the vaginal opening.

Also called vaginal candidiasis, vaginal yeast infection affects up to 3 out of 4 women at some point in their lifetimes. Many women experience at least two episodes.

A vaginal yeast infection isn't considered a sexually transmitted infection. But, there's an increased risk of vaginal yeast infection at the time of first regular sexual activity. There's also some evidence that infections may be linked to mouth to genital contact (oral-genital sex).

Symptoms

Yeast infection symptoms can range from mild to moderate, and include:

  • Itching and irritation in the vagina and vulva

  • A burning sensation, especially during intercourse or while urinating

  • Redness and swelling of the vulva

  • Vaginal pain and soreness

  • Vaginal rash

  • Thick, white, odor-free vaginal discharge with a cottage cheese appearance

  • Watery vaginal discharge

 

When to see a doctor

Make an appointment with your doctor if:

  • This is the first time you've had yeast infection symptoms

  • You're not sure whether you have a yeast infection

  • Your symptoms aren't relieved after treating with over-the-counter antifungal vaginal creams or suppositories

  • You develop other symptoms

 

Prevention

 

To reduce your risk of vaginal yeast infections, wear underwear that has a cotton crotch and doesn't fit too tightly.

It might also help to avoid:

  • Douching, which removes some of the normal bacteria in the vagina that protect you from infection

  • Scented feminine products, including bubble bath, pads and tampons

  • Hot tubs and very hot baths

  • Staying in wet clothes, such as swimsuits and workout attire, for long periods of time

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