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Yeast Infection
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A yeast infection is caused by the build-up of certain yeast, usually Candida yeast, in the vagina. Your vagina has naturally occurring bacteria that control the presence of this yeast. However, sometimes a foreign agent will cause a disruption in the natural balance of bacteria of your vagina, resulting in a yeast infection. Yeast infections are very common in women of reproductive age. Some women are more prone to developing yeast infections, and this includes diabetic women, women on certain antibiotics, women with weakened immune systems and women who experience significant hormonal changes. You are more prone to develop a yeast infection one week prior to your period. Yeast infections are characterized by:

  • Vaginal itching
  • Vaginal discharge that is white, curdlike and odorless
  • Vaginal soreness
  • Vaginal irritation and a burning sensation
  • Rash or redness on the skin outside of the vagina
  • Burning during urination
  • Pain during intercourse

It is very unlikely that you will contract a yeast infection from sex. Instead, yeast infections are caused by certain disruptions in the natural balance of your vagina, such as:

  • Antibiotic use, which often kills helpful bacteria present in the vagina
  • Certain birth control pills
  • Pregnancy
  • Damp clothing that encourages yeast growth
  • Douche and other perfumed products that may wash away helpful bacteria in the vagina
  • Tight-fitting clothing (including stockings and tights) and underwear made of synthetic material rather than cotton

If you have never had a yeast infection, but are experiencing the tell-tale signs such as burning or white, curdlike discharge, you should still see your provider. It’s important for your provider to see your symptoms and to make sure that you do not have any type of sexually transmitted disease or other infection.

If you have been diagnosed with a yeast infection before, however, and notice the symptoms, you may use self-treatment. In fact, many ob/gyns recommend the use of over-the-counter yeast infection treatments for recurring yeast infections. Just remember that the symptoms of a yeast infection are similar to other problems, and self-diagnosis is not accurate more often than you think.

If you have more than one yeast infection per year you should see your doctor. If your symptoms persist beyond the medication period, you should also see your doctor. When using medication to treat a yeast infection, avoid intercourse, refrain from using a douche, don’t use tampons and remember to finish the treatment to its advised end. You can take certain precautions to avoid developing a yeast infection, including wearing loose fitting clothing, cotton underwear, maintaining proper hygiene, and even by eating certain yogurts with live active cultures.

Click below to read about related topics.

Bacterial Vaginosis
Yeast Infection
Noninfectious Vaginitis
Urinary Tract Infections