Mary Calvagna, MS
A vaginal yeast infection is caused by a yeast fungus called
Candida. While yeast is common in the vagina, it can cause irritating symptoms when it grows excessively.
Yeast grows in conditions that are less acidic. Vaginal fluids are most often mildly acidic, but this can change. For example, acid levels can decrease during menstrual flow. "Good" bacteria also help keep vaginal secretions acidic and keep yeast levels in check. Conditions that decrease the good bacteria will also increase the chance of a yeast infection.
Factors that can increase your chance of a yeast infection include:
Tell your doctor if you have any of these symptoms:
Your doctor will:
It is important to see a doctor the first time you have symptoms. Other vaginal infections may have symptoms similar to a yeast infection. These can include
If you have been diagnosed with a yeast infection, you may be able to recognize the signs of a new infection. In this case, it is safe to use over-the-counter medicine. Talk to your doctor if you are unsure.
Various antifungal medicines are available as intravaginal creams, suppositories, and oral medicine. Some examples include:
If you are diagnosed with a yeast infection, follow your doctor's
To help reduce your chance of getting a yeast infection, take the following steps:
American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada
Women's Health Matters
Schub T. Candidiasis, vulvovaginal. EBSCO Nursing Reference Center website. Available at:
http://www.ebscohost.com/pointOfCare/nrc-about. Updated February 24, 2012. Accessed August 9, 2012.
Vulvovaginal candidiasis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:
http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/. Updated June 19, 2012. Accessed August 9, 2012.
Yeast infections. American Academy of Family Physicians, Family Doctor.org website. Available at:
http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/diseases-conditions/yeast-infections.html. Updated August 2010. Accessed August 9, 2012.
Last reviewed September 2012 by Andrea Chisholm
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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