Most women will steer clear of talking about having a vaginal yeast infection, but it affects 3 out of 4 women at some point in their lifetime with many experiencing at least two episodes according to a Mayo Clinic overview.
Although women and girls of all ages can get vaginal yeast infections they are rare before puberty and after menopause according to the government office on Women’s Health. Learning the causes, symptoms and treatment plans will help when that healthy balance of bacteria and yeast gets out of whack causing a fungus to grow.
The signs and symptoms of yeast infections are a lot like other more serious infections, so it’s important to talk with your doctor first about what you are experiencing. About 5% of women will get repeat infections (four or more a year) so monitor this issue with your provider.
What causes a yeast infection?
Your vagina may have small amounts of yeast at any given time causing no symptoms, but when too much yeast grows, you get an infection.
Are some women more at risk for yeast infections?
Yes, according to Women’s Health.gov, the risk is higher if:
- You are pregnant
- You have diabetes and your blood sugar is not under control
- You use a type of hormonal birth control that has higher doses of estrogen
- You douche or use vaginal sprays
- You recently took antibiotics such as amoxicillin or steroid medicines
- You have a weakened immune system, such as from HIV
Can you get yeast infections from having sex?
Yes, a yeast infection is not considered an STI, because you can get a yeast infection without having sex, but you can get a yeast infection from your sexual partner. Condoms and dental dams may help to prevent or pass it on.
What are the symptoms?
The symptoms can range from mild to moderate and include:
- Itching and irritation in the vagina and vulva
- A burning sensation
- Redness or swelling of the vulva
- Vaginal pain and soreness
- Vaginal rash
- Thick, white, odor-free vaginal discharge
- Watery vaginal discharge
Can you lower the risk of yeast infections?
There are steps you can take to lower your risk, including:
- Do not douche as it removes some of the normal bacteria in the vagina that protects you from infection.
- Do not use scented feminine products, including bubble bath, sprays, pads and tampons.
- Change your tampons, pads and panty liners often.
- Do not wear tight underwear, pantyhose, pants or jeans. These can increase body heat and moisture in your genital area.
- Wear underwear with a cotton crotch. Cotton underwear helps keep you dry and doesn’t hold in warmth and moisture.
- Change out of wet swimsuits and workout clothes as soon as you can.
- After using the bathroom, always wipe from front to back.
- Avoid hot tubs and very hot baths.
- If you have diabetes, be sure your blood sugar is under control.
Take steps to learn more about yeast infections and what to do to prevent them.
The information on this site is intended to raise awareness and understanding of specific health issues. It should not be used for diagnosis or a substitute for health care by your physician.