yeast infection discharge
If you suspect you have a vaginal yeast infection, you may try an at-home vaginal pH test; however, this test will only help you rule out other infections.

Yeast infections or candidiasis are very common in moist areas of the skin and mucus membranes, such as the mouth, digestive tract, and genitals.

The vaginal environment is acidic (pH: 3.8 to 4.5), which naturally prevents yeast growth. However, a change in the environment may cause an overgrowth of yeast leading to an infection.

It is estimated that every three out of four (75 percent) women will get at least one yeast infection in their lifetime.

If you suspect you might have a vaginal yeast infection, you may try an at-home vaginal pH test, but they do not confirm yeast infection. However, they may help you rule out other infections, including bacterial vaginosis (bacterial infection of the vagina), dermatitis (skin irritation), and trichomoniasis (a sexually transmitted infection).

What is a vaginal yeast infection?

Vaginal yeast infections are caused by Candida albicans, a fungus that lives on the skin, mouth, and genitals. These infections usually occur as infrequent episodes but can recur frequently and may cause chronic persistent symptoms.

Vaginal yeast infections are rare before puberty (before the initiation of regular menstrual cycles) and after menopause (end of menstrual cycles).

Vaginal yeast infections are also called:

What causes a vaginal yeast infection?

Vaginal yeast infections are common in women aged 20 to 40 years and are often linked to the use of:

What are the signs and symptoms of vaginal yeast infection?

Vaginal yeast infections are very uncomfortable, often nonserious, and not transmitted sexually. 

The signs and symptoms of a vaginal yeast infection include:

  • Itching and irritation in the vagina
  • Redness and swelling of the vulva (folds of the skin around the vaginal opening)
  • Pain and burning while urinating
  • Pain during sexual activity
  • A white discharge resembling cottage cheese

How is vaginal yeast infection diagnosed?

Your doctor may ask a few questions to confirm yeast infection, such as:

  • Medical history: Past vaginal infections or sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Pelvic examination: The doctor may use an instrument, called a speculum, to open and hold the vaginal walls and examine the vagina and cervix (narrow end of the uterus).
  • Vaginal swab test: A sample of vaginal secretion will be collected and analyzed for the causative organism.

What is the fastest way to get rid of a yeast infection?

Treatment may depend on the severity of the infection.

  • In mild to moderate severity, antifungal medications, such as miconazole and terconazole, are prescribed for three to seven days.
  • A few of these medications are over-the-counter (without a prescription) drugs
  • Antifungal medications are available as pills, creams, ointments, and suppositories.

The doctor may prescribe a single, oral dose of antifungal medication, such as fluconazole to control the infection.

You can prevent yeast infection using the following simple tips:

  • Avoid tight-fitting, synthetic clothes and pantyhose
  • Use cotton panties
  • Keep the vaginal area dry after a shower
  • Change wet clothes as soon as possible
  • Avoid using sprays, scented sanitary pads, or tampons
  • Maintain a good glycemic control

QUESTION

The vagina includes the labia, clitoris, and uterus. See Answer

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Medically Reviewed on 12/9/2021
References
Image Source: iStock Images

American Academy of Family Physicians. Yeast infections. https://familydoctor.org/condition/yeast-infections/

Brennan D. What Is the Fastest Way to Get Rid of a Yeast Infection?MedicineNet. https://www.medicinenet.com/the_fastest_way_to_get_rid_of_a_yeast_infection/article.htm

Johnson T. Yeast infections: Should you treat yourself, or See a Doctor? WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/women/guide/yeast-infections-should-you-treat-yourself-or-see-a-doctor

OASH. Vaginal yeast infections. https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/vaginal-yeast-infections