Vaginal Yeast Infection
(Vaginal Candidiasis; Candidiasis; Candida Vulvovaginitis; Yeast Infection; Monilial Vulvovaginitis; Vulvovaginal Candidiasis; VVC)
A vaginal yeast infection is caused by a yeast fungus. The fungus is called Candida albicans . While yeast is common in the vagina, it can cause problems when it grows excessively. This excess growth causes the uncomfortable symptoms.
Yeast grows in conditions that are less acidic. Vaginal fluids are most often mildly acidic but this can change. For example, acid levels can go down during menstrual flow. "Good" bacteria also helps keep yeast levels in check. Conditions that decrease the good bacteria will also increase the chance of a yeast infection.
These factors increase your chance of a yeast infection. Tell your doctor if you have any of these risk factors:
Situations that can cause hormonal changes:
- Birth control pills
- Steroid use
- Broad-spectrum antibiotics
- ]]>Diabetes]]> , especially when blood sugar is not well-controlled
- A compromised immune system, such as with ]]>HIV]]> infection
- Perfumed feminine hygiene sprays, deodorant tampons, or bubble bath
- Tight jeans, synthetic underwear, or a wet swimsuit
If you have any of these symptoms do not assume it is due to a yeast infection. While typical of yeast infections, they may be caused by other conditions. Tell your doctor if you have any of these:
- Vaginal itching, ranging from mild to severe
- A clumpy, vaginal discharge that may look like cottage cheese
- Vaginal soreness, irritation, or burning
- Rash or redness on the skin outside the vagina
- Painful urination
- Painful sexual intercourse
Your doctor will take a history. A pelvic exam will be done. Any vaginal discharge will be tested.
It is important to see a doctor the first time you have symptoms. Other infections, including may have symptoms like those of a yeast infection. This can include bacterial vaginosis]]> and ]]>trichomoniasis]]> .
If you have had a yeast infection, you may be able to recognize the signs of a new infection. In this case, it is safe to use over-the-counter medications. Talk to your doctor if you have any doubt.
Various antifungal medications are available as intravaginal creams, tablets, or suppositories:
- Monistat (miconazole nitrate)]]>
- ]]>Gyne-Lotrimin (clotrimazole vaginal)]]>
- ]]>Fem-stat (butoconazole vaginal)]]>
- ]]>Terazol (terconazole vaginal)]]>
- ]]>Mycelex (clotrimazole vaginal)]]>
Your doctor can prescribe ]]>fluconazole (Diflucan)]]> . Diflucan is an oral medication. It is a single-dose treatment. If you are pregnant, talk with your doctor before using any treatment.
If you are diagnosed with a yeast infection, follow your doctor's instructions .
To help reduce your chance of getting a yeast infection, take the following steps:
- Dry the outside vaginal area thoroughly after a shower, bath, or swim
- Change out of a wet bathing suit or damp workout clothes as soon as possible
- Wear cotton underwear
- Avoid tight-fitting clothing
- Don't douche unless your doctor tells you to do so; it decreases vaginal acidity
- If you have diabetes]]> , try and control your blood sugar
- Avoid bubble baths, perfumed feminine hygiene sprays, and scented soap
- Avoid frequent or prolonged use of antibiotics if possible
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
National Women's Health Information Center
The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada
Women's Health Matters
Candida vulvovaginitis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php . Updated December 2008. Accessed January 19, 2008.
Vaginal infection. EBSCO Natural and Alternative Treatments website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/thisTopic.php?marketID=15topicID=114 . Updated November 2008. Accessed January 19, 2008.
Vaginal yeast infection. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases website. Available at: http://www3.niaid.nih.gov/healthscience/healthtopics/vaginalYeastInfection/default.htm . Accessed July 11, 2008.
Vaginal yeast infections. American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: http://familydoctor.org/online/famdocen/home/women/reproductive/vaginal/206.html . Published September 2000. Updated May 2008. Accessed July 11, 2008.
Yeast infections. National Library of Medicine, Medline Plus website. Available at: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/imagepages/17141.htm . Updated June 6, 2008. Accessed July 11, 2008.
Last reviewed November 2008 by ]]>Jeff Andrews, MD, FRCSC, FACOG]]>
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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