The normal healthy vagina has many microorganisms (MY-kro-OR-gan-izms) including bacteria and yeasts. An overgrowth of yeast causes a yeast infection. Even a small change in the amount of yeast can cause redness and swelling of the vagina and the genital area.
Yeasts are the second most common cause of vaginal infections. All women can get yeast infections, but antibiotics (AN-tee-by-OT-iks), pregnancy, diabetes, and a weak immune system all can increase your risk for getting one. A yeast infection is not a sexually transmitted disease (STD). This means you don’t get it from sex.
- Mild to severe genital or vaginal itching
- Vaginal irritation: redness, swelling, or burning (often with urination or sex)
Some women have symptoms that do not go away after taking the usual medicines. Some women get yeast infections often. Other types of vaginal infections or medical conditions may have the same symptoms as yeast infections, so it’s important to be checked by your doctor.
Your provider can detect a yeast infection by using a few simple tests. If you’ve never had a yeast infection before, and you are having symptoms, you should see your provider. He or she can check to make sure it is not another kind of infection.
There are many treatments for a yeast infection. Some are available without a prescription. Your doctor may prescribe a cream or suppository for your vagina or a medicine you take by mouth.
It’s very important that you finish taking all of the medicine even if your symptoms have gone away. If you are not feeling better after 2 to 3 days, call your doctor.
During your treatment
Here are some steps you can take to help you feel better during your treatment:
- Do not use any vaginal preparations such as douches, feminine hygiene sprays, or contraceptive foams, inserts, or jellies.
- If you have your menstrual period while treating a yeast infection, use pads instead
of tampons because tampons can absorb the medication.
- Avoid having sex during treatment and for 3 days after treatment. Also, the oils in a cream or suppository used for treatment can weaken a latex condom or a diaphragm used for birth control.
Here are some steps you can take to help prevent a vaginal yeast infection from returning:
- After using the toilet, always wipe from front to back (away from the vagina).
- Discuss any medicines you take with your provider. Some medicines can make you more likely to develop a yeast infection.
Revised September 2011