Vaginal yeast infections are a very common problem in women. It is difficult to know the true percentage of women affected by yeast infections; they are frequently diagnosed without an examination and many women treat themselves with over-the-counter yeast treatments before seeking medical advice.
Itching of the vulva is the most common symptom of a vaginal yeast infection. Women may also note vaginal discharge, pain with urination, vulvar soreness or irritation, pain with intercourse, or reddened and swollen vulvar and vaginal tissues. If present, discharge is typically white and clumpy (curd-like) or thin and watery.
Symptoms of a yeast infection are similar to a number of other conditions. It is not usually possible to know, based on symptoms alone, if vulvar itching is caused by yeast or other potential causes.
Candida is a fungus that normally lives on the skin. It causes most cases of vaginal yeast infections. Normally, candida causes no symptoms. However, when the skin or mucous membranes undergo changes due to medications, injury, or stress to the immune system, candida multiplies and causes the characteristic symptoms of a yeast infection, described above.
In most women, there is no underlying disease or event that leads to a yeast infection. There are several risk factors that may increase the chances of developing an infection, including use of antibiotics, hormonal contraceptives and certain contraceptive devices, diabetes, pregnancy, and a weakened immune system (due to chemotherapy, HIV, or certain medications).
Diagnosing and Treatment
To diagnose a vaginal yeast infection, a healthcare provider will take a medical history, perform a physical examination, and perform diagnostic testing. It is important to be seen when symptoms are present and before any treatment is used.
Women with symptoms of vulvar itching or vaginal discharge frequently assume that their symptoms are related to a yeast infection and treat themselves. Incorrect self-diagnosis and treatment can delay appropriate treatment and wastes money.
Treatment of vaginal yeast infection may include a tablet, a topical cream or cream inserted into the vagina. Over –the- counter products include one, three, and seven day treatments. Seven day vaginal treatments are recommended over the shorter course of treatment. Oral treatment is available by prescription, as one dose of fluconazole (Diflucan®) 150 mg. However, it may take 1 week for complete resolution of symptoms.
Yeast infections are not contagious and are not considered STI’s. No data support the treatment of sex partners
In an emergency go to Mount Nittany Medical Center or call 911 for an ambulance.
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This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. This information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Approved by the UHS Patient Education Committee. Reviewed 02/1/17