Augusta Healthcare for Women
A vaginal yeast infection is an infection of the vagina that causes itching and burning of the vulva, the area around the vagina. Vaginal yeast infections are caused by an overgrowth of the fungus Candida.
Women and girls of all ages can get vaginal yeast infections. Three out of four women will have a yeast infection at some point in their life. Almost half of women have two or more infections.1
Vaginal yeast infections are rare before puberty and after menopause.
Yes. Your risk for yeast infections is higher if:2
The most common symptom of a vaginal yeast infection is extreme itchiness in and around the vagina.
Other signs and symptoms include:
You may have only a few of these symptoms. They may be mild or severe.
Yeast infections are caused by overgrowth of the microscopic fungus Candida.
Your vagina may have small amounts of yeast at any given time without causing any symptoms. But when too much yeast grows, you can get an infection.
Yes. Seeing your doctor or nurse is the only way to know for sure if you have a yeast infection and not a more serious type of infection.
The signs and symptoms of a yeast infection are a lot like symptoms of other more serious infections, such as STIs and bacterial vaginosis (BV). If left untreated, STIs and BV raise your risk of getting other STIs, including HIV, and can lead to problems getting pregnant. BV can also lead to problems during pregnancy, such as premature delivery.
Your doctor will do a pelvic exam to look for swelling and discharge. Your doctor may also use a cotton swab to take a sample of the discharge from your vagina. A lab technician will look at the sample under a microscope to see whether there is an overgrowth of the fungus Candida that causes a yeast infection.
Yeast infections are usually treated with antifungal medicine. See your doctor or nurse to make sure that you have a vaginal yeast infection and not another type of infection.
You can then buy antifungal medicine for yeast infections at a store, without a prescription. Antifungal medicines come in the form of creams, tablets, ointments, or suppositories that you insert into your vagina. You can apply treatment in one dose or daily for up to seven days, depending on the brand you choose.
Your doctor or nurse can also give you a single dose of antifungal medicine taken by mouth, such as fluconazole . If you get more than four vaginal yeast infections a year, or if your yeast infection doesn't go away after using over-the-counter treatment, you may need to take regular doses of antifungal medicine for up to six months.
Yes, but always talk with your doctor or nurse before treating yourself for a vaginal yeast infection. This is because:
During pregnancy, it's safe to treat a yeast infection with vaginal creams or suppositories that contain miconazole or clotrimazole.
Do not take the oral fluconazole tablet to treat a yeast infection during pregnancy. It may cause birth defects.4
Yes. Yeast infections can happen on your nipples or in your breast (commonly called "thrush") from breastfeeding. Yeast thrive on milk and moisture. A yeast infection you get while breastfeeding is different from a vaginal yeast infection. However, it is caused by an overgrowth of the same fungus.
Symptoms of thrush during breastfeeding include:
If you have any of these signs or symptoms or think your baby might have thrush in his or her mouth, call your doctor.
You can take steps to lower your risk of getting yeast infections:
Maybe. Studies suggest that eating eight ounces of yogurt with "live cultures" daily or taking Lactobacillus acidophilus capsules can help prevent infection.5,6
But, more research still needs to be done to say for sure if yogurt with Lactobacillus or other probiotics can prevent or treat vaginal yeast infections. If you think you have a yeast infection, see your doctor or nurse to make sure before taking any over-the-counter medicine.
If you get four or more yeast infections in a year, talk to your doctor or nurse.
About 5% of women get four or more vaginal yeast infections in one year. This is called recurrent vulvovaginal candidiasis (RVVC). RVVC is more common in women with diabetes or weak immune systems, such as with HIV, but it can also happen in otherwise healthy women.
Doctors most often treat RVVC with antifungal medicine for up to six months.
Reference: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Last updated: January 8, 2015.