Yeast vaginitis is an infection caused by a fungus called Candida. It is one of the most common vaginal infections.
Symptoms develop when large numbers of a fungus called Candida are present in the vagina. This overgrowth can occur spontaneously either without identifiable cause or in association with the use of birth control pills, pregnancy, uncontrolled diabetes, or antibiotic therapy.
Yeast infections often also occur during the week preceding a menstrual period.
Yeast can cause an infection for anyone with a vagina, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation.
The most common symptoms of a yeast infection include:
Yeast vaginitis is not considered a sexually transmitted disease, and women who have never been sexually active can develop a yeast infection.
These infections do not involve the fallopian tubes or uterus, and therefore do not interfere with fertility.
Yeast vaginitis can be diagnosed by taking some of the discharge from your vagina and viewing it under the microscope. The discharge also can be cultured. These tests are most accurate when a woman has not used any vaginal medication for at least 48 hours.
Yeast infections are usually treated with an antifungal vaginal cream or suppository, available either by prescription or over the counter (OTC). A prescription for oral medication is also available. Most of the vaginal creams or suppositories must be used for 3 to 7 nights to cure the infection. Douching does not cure yeast infections, and may actually make them worse.
Although symptoms may go away before completing the treatment, it is important to finish all the medication recommended on the package or by your clinician to cure the infection.
The OTC medications now available for treating yeast infections are effective for only those infections caused by Candida. Chlamydia, gonorrhea and bacterial vaginosis can produce similar symptoms. Therefore, it is important for you to have previously had at least one yeast infection diagnosed by a health care provider so that the provider can prescribe an appropriate medication for your symptoms.
It also is important either to have an up-to-date screening for sexually transmitted diseases or to obtain one for yourself and your most recent new sexual partner.
Generally men do not get yeast infections. Male partners who do have symptoms such as itching, rash, burning with urination or discharge from the penis should be evaluated.
Since it is unknown whether yeast is transmitted between women, female partners should be evaluated for yeast.
Although penetrative sex is not dangerous during the treatment of a yeast infection, it's better to abstain.
Intercourse can irritate vaginal tissue and increase inflammation and soreness. If you use a barrier method of birth control, it is important to know that yeast creams or suppositories may be oil based and can weaken diaphragms, cervical caps and latex condoms.
If you need an appointment to be checked for yeast, contact Hall Health Center.
If you have any questions and are a UW student or established Hall Health patient, you may call one of our Consulting Nurses for further information.
Authored by: Hall Health Center Women's Health Clinic staff
Reviewed by: Hall Health Center Women's Health Clinic staff, January 2014