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  ^

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

Risk Factors  ^

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

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

Symptoms  ^

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  ^

You will be asked 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  ^


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  ^

To help reduce your chance of a yeast infection:

  • Dry the outside vaginal area thoroughly after a shower, bath, or swim.
  • Don't douche.
  • 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

Women's Health—US Department of Health and Human Services


The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada

Women's Health Matters


Vaginal yeast infection. Office on Women's Health website. Available at: Updated January 6, 2015. Accessed June 7, 2016.

Vulvovaginal candidiasis. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: Updated April 27, 2016. Accessed June 7, 2016.

Yeast infections. American Academy of Family Physicians Family Doctor website. Available at: Updated April 2014. Accessed June 7, 2016.

Last reviewed June 2016 by Michael Woods, MD  Last Updated: 9/12/2016