What Are Vaginal Yeast Infections?
Vaginal yeast infections, also known as candidiasis, are a
common female condition. Yeast infections are caused by the fungus Candida. This fungus is associated with
intense itching, swelling, and irritation.
According to the Mayo Clinic, 3 out of 4 women
will experience a yeast infection at one point in their lives. Once you get a
yeast infection, you’re more likely to get another one.
Vaginal yeast infections can be spread by sexual contact,
but in general they aren’t considered a sexually transmitted infection.
Treatment for yeast infections is relatively simple, depending on how severe
What Causes Vaginal Yeast Infections?
genus of yeast is a naturally
occurring microorganism in the vaginal area. Its growth is kept
in check by the lactobacillus
bacteria. However, these bacteria can’t work effectively if there is an
imbalance in your system. This leads to an overgrowth of yeast, which causes
the symptoms of vaginal yeast infections to be present.
Most yeast infections are caused by Candida albicans — a
specific strand of yeast. These yeast infections are easily treatable. If you’re
having recurring yeast infections or problems getting rid of a yeast infection
with conventional treatment, then a different version of Candida might be the
culprit. A lab test can let your doctor know which type of Candida you have.
The imbalance that allows the overgrowth of yeast to happen can
be due to:
(they lower the amount of lactobacillus, or good bacteria, in the vagina)
eating habits, including a lot of sugary foods
imbalance near your menstrual cycle
The Symptoms of a Vaginal Yeast Infection
Vaginal yeast infections have a common set of symptoms.
Usually the length of time your yeast infection is left untreated can have a
direct impact on how severe your symptoms are.
Frequent symptoms include:
or small amounts of vaginal discharge, often whitish gray and thick (although
there are also times the discharge can be watery)
Getting a Vaginal Yeast Infection Diagnosis
Yeast infections are simple to diagnose. Doctors will
normally begin by getting information regarding your medical history. This will
include whether or not you have had prior yeast infections. Normally, doctors
will also ask if you have ever had a sexually transmitted infection.
The next step is a pelvic exam. Your doctor will examine
your vagina and the surrounding area to see if there are external signs of
infection. They will also examine your vaginal walls and cervix. Depending on
what your doctor discovers, they will take a vaginal culture to send to the lab
for confirmation. Tests are usually ordered only for women that have yeast
infections on a regular basis or for infections that won’t go away.
After an initial diagnosis, you may be able to determine the
presence of a future yeast infection on your own.
What Is the Best Way to Treat a Vaginal Yeast Infection?
Your doctor will treat your yeast infection according to its
severity and complications.
For simple yeast infections, your doctor will usually
prescribe the following treatment(s):
one- to three-day regimen of an antifungal cream, ointment, tablet, or
suppository. Common antifungal medications are Gynazle, Lotrimin, Monistat, and
Terazol. These medications can be in prescription or over-the-counter form.
single dose of oral medication such as Diflucan
Women with simple yeast infections should make sure to
follow up with their doctor to make sure the medicine worked. A follow-up will
also be necessary if your symptoms return within two months.
Certain types of Candida will not respond to normal treatment and will
require an aggressive course of treatment. If you meet one of the following
criteria, your doctor will more than likely treat your yeast infection as if it
were a severe or complicated case:
have severe redness, swelling, and itching that leads to sores or tears in your
have had more than four yeast infections in a year.
- Candida other than albicans is the cause of your
have uncontrolled diabetes or a weak immune system from medication or from
Possible treatments for severe or complicated yeast
cream, ointment, tablet, or suppository vaginal treatment
or three doses of Diflucan (not for pregnant women)
prescription of Diflucan that is taken once a week for six weeks, or long-term
use of a topical antifungal medication
of your sexual partner or use of condoms when having sex
Natural and Alternative Solutions to Vaginal Yeast Infections
You can treat vaginal yeast infections with natural remedies
if you would like to avoid taking prescription medication. These are some popular
tree oil cream
or boric acid vaginal suppositories
taken orally or inserted into the vagina
How to Prevent Vaginal Yeast Infections
In many cases, you may know exactly what led to your yeast
infection. For example, some women experience these infections every time they
take antibiotics. By recognizing your own risk factors, you can prevent future
Here are some common methods of prevention, most targeted at
avoiding bacteria growth near the vagina:
wearing tight pants, pantyhose, tights, or leggings
using feminine deodorant or deodorant tampons/pads
not sit around in wet clothing, especially bathing suits
a well-balanced diet
yogurt or take supplements with lactobacillus
natural fibers such as cotton, linen, or silk
sitting in hot tubs or taking frequent hot tub baths
underwear in hot water
feminine products frequently
yeast infections a recurring problem for you? Read our top yeast
infection prevention tips and remedies.