What is a yeast infection?
A vaginal yeast infection occurs when there is too much of a particular kind of yeast, called Candida, in the vagina. Candida is a naturally occurring fungus that can be found in many places in the body. Vaginas have their own environment with a balance of bacteria and yeast. Although bacteria and yeast can be thought of as only bad things, they are actually completely normal and necessary to your health. When there is an imbalance in the bacteria or yeast, an infection can occur.
How common are yeast infections?
Vaginal yeast infections are very common, it’s estimated that up to 50% of people with vaginas will experience a yeast infection at some point in their life.
What are the symptoms of a yeast infection?
The most common symptoms of a vaginal yeast infection are itchiness and discomfort. Other symptoms include:
How do I treat a yeast infection?
If you think you have a yeast infection, it can be helpful to see a doctor to be tested and prescribed antifungal medication. There are many over-the-counter treatment options as well.
Over-the-counter antifungal options are often a cream or ointment. Treatment length ranges from 1-7 days. Doctors can also prescribe oral antifungal medication (such as fluconazole or ibrexafungerp), which is taken over the course of a single day. If you are pregnant, it is important to note that it is safe to use topical creams, but oral antifungal medication is not recommended.
Can I have sex while I have a yeast infection?
Although yeast infections are generally not contagious, it is not recommended to have sex (vaginal or oral) while healing from the infection. Yeast infections typically include symptoms of vaginal irritation and the friction from having sex can make the irritation worse and extend your healing process.
Topical solutions used to treat yeast infections can often contain oil, which is not recommended for use with condoms as it can cause a condom to break.
How can I prevent yeast infections?
Not all yeast infections are preventable, but here are a few tips for minimizing your chance of infection:
Is a yeast infection different from bacterial vaginosis (BV)?
Yes! Although yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis (BV) are both considered Vaginitis, or an irritation of the vagina or vulva, they do have different causes and some different symptoms.
Yeast infections are caused by a fungus (Candida) and BV is caused by bacteria. Another difference between yeast infections and BV is the type of vaginal discharge associated with the infection. Yeast infections typically cause thick, white discharge that does not have a strong odor, while BV typically causes a thinner, gray-white discharge, with a strong, fishy odor.
If you’re unsure whether you have an infection, or continue having symptoms of infection after over-the-counter treatment, it is best to see a medical provider to be evaluated for a diagnosis and treatment.
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