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Vaginal Yeast Infection

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



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


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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 infection

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


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.


Prevention    TOP

To help reduce your chance of a yeast infection:

  • 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.

American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

Office on Women's Health


The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada

Women's Health Matters


Vaginal yeast infection. 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 June 2015 by Andrea Chisholm, MD
Last Updated: 5/11/2013

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