About Vaginal Yeast Infection

  • What is a vaginal yeast infection?

    Yeast infections are a common cause of irritation of the vagina and vulva (area around the opening to the vagina). About 75 percent of women have a vaginal yeast infection at some time during their lives. A kind of fungus called Candida causes vaginal yeast infections. It is normal to have some yeast in your vagina. Usually yeast is in balance with other organisms. But sometimes the balance is lost, and yeast overgrowth occurs. Hormonal changes can affect the acidity of the vagina and lead to yeast overgrowth. Another common cause of yeast infections is taking antibiotics. This is because antibiotics kill not only bad bacteria, but can destroy "good" bacteria, such as Lactobacillus in the vagina. Lactobacillus prevents bad bacteria and yeast from growing out of control and causing infection.

  • What are the symptoms of a vaginal yeast infection?

    Symptoms of vaginal yeast infections in women may be mild or very uncomfortable. These may be similar to symptoms of other kinds of vaginal infections, and may include

    • Itching, burning, and irritation of the vagina
    • Itching, redness and irritation of the vulva
    • Painful urination and/or intercourse
    • Abnormal vaginal discharge, usually described as looking like cottage cheese
    • Tell an adult and make an appointment with a doctor if you suspect you have a vaginal yeast infection.

  • What can I do to protect myself from a vaginal yeast infection?

    There are several things you can do to protect yourself from yeast infections. Most of them have to do with keeping the vaginal area drier.

    • Wear underpants and pantyhose with a cotton crotch (wearing a pantiliner can also help keep you drier)
    • Wear loose-fitting bottoms (shorts or pants) when you exercise, rather than tight fitting clothing
    • Avoid wearing wet bathing suits or exercise clothing for long periods of time, and wash them after each use
    • Don't use douches that can irritate the vagina