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Vaginal Yeast Infection

(Vaginal Candidiasis; Candida Vulvovaginitis; Yeast Infection; Monilial Vulvovaginitis; Vulvovaginal Candidiasis; VVC)

Definition

A vaginal yeast infection is irritation of the vagina and the outside area around it, called the vulva.

Vagina

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Causes    TOP

A yeast infection is caused by an overgrowth of fungus that is normally found in small amounts in the vagina.

Risk Factors    TOP

Factors that may increase your chance of a yeast infection include:

  • Situations that can cause hormonal changes, such as birth control pills, pregnancy, menopause, or steroid use
  • Broad-spectrum antibiotics
  • Douching
  • Diabetes, especially when blood sugar is not well-controlled
  • A compromised immune system from health conditions such as HIV

Symptoms    TOP

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

Diagnosis    TOP

Your doctor will ask 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.

Treatment    TOP

Medication

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.

If you are diagnosed with a yeast infection, follow your doctor's instructions.

Prevention    TOP

To help reduce your chance of getting a yeast infection, take these steps:

  • Dry the outside vaginal area thoroughly after a shower, bath, or swim.
  • Don't douche unless your doctor tells you to do so.
  • If you have diabetes, try to control your blood sugar.
  • Avoid frequent or prolonged use of antibiotics if possible.

RESOURCES:

American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
http://www.acog.org/For_Patients
US Office on Women's Health
http://www.womenshealth.gov

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada
http://www.sogc.org
Women's Health Matters
http://www.womenshealthmatters.ca

References:

Vaginal yeast infections fact sheet. US Office on Women's Health website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated July 16, 2012. Accessed July 26, 2013.
Vulvovaginal candidiasis.EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated July 18, 2013. Accessed July 26, 2013.
Yeast infections. American Academy of Family Physicians Family Doctor website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated August 2010. Accessed July 26, 2013.
Last reviewed July 2013 by Andrea Chisholm; Brian Randall, MD
Last Updated: 5/11/2013