Women's Health

What are the Symptoms and Treatment for Vaginal Yeast Infections?

What are the Symptoms and Treatment for Vaginal Yeast Infections?

Key Takeaways

  • Yeast infections are caused by a growth in yeast cells in the vagina.
  • Yeast infections can be caused by antibiotics.
  • The symptoms of a yeast infection are a burning sensation during urination, itching, soreness, redness and swelling of the vulva, and thick vaginal discharge.

An infection in the vagina caused by yeast cells is very common among women, and is not considered a serious condition. Yeast cells are normally present in small numbers in the vaginal region, but due to certain triggers they can start multiplying, resulting in infection and inflammation. Yeast infections can be treated successfully, and in the case of recurrent infections, treatment is recommended for a longer period of time. It is likely that three out of every four women will contract this infection at some point in their lives.

The most common cause for this infection is the yeast cell known as Candida albicans. These yeast cells exist in small numbers, and have a delicate balance with the bacteria Lactobacillus acidophilus present in vagina. The acid produced by this bacteria maintain the number of yeast cells to prevent uncontrolled growth. Certain triggers can change this delicate balance and allow the yeast cells to grow beyond normal. Antibiotics can disrupt this equilibrium, causing these organisms to grow in size and population. Increased levels of estrogen, pregnancy, and hormone replacement therapy are other causes for the growth of yeast cells in the vagina. Chronic diseases, like diabetes and HIV, can also increase the chance of a yeast infection.

Some of the common symptoms of yeast infections are:

  • A burning sensation during urination
  • Itching
  • Soreness
  • Redness and swelling of the vulva
  • Thick vaginal discharge, which looks like cottage cheese

The infection can become more complex if the individual has recurrent infections, or has severe signs and symptoms. If a woman is pregnant or has diabetes, it is important to pay close attention to the maintenance of this infection. It is important to consult with a doctor if the the infection lingers, even after taking over-the-counter anti-fungal medications, or if the symptoms worsen.

Yeast infections can be treated at home using over-the-counter medications, like anti-fungal pills, anti-fungal creams, and suppositories.

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Mild symptoms may wear off on their own, without any other specific treatment. Pregnant women with yeast infections should take medications only after discussing it with a doctor. If the infection recurs more than four times in a one year, an individual should schedule a follow up appointment with a doctor to discuss what can be causing these infections. Medical conditions, like diabetes, may result in recurrent infections. For recurrent yeast infections, doctors usually suggest a medication plan, which will help to prevent further growth of yeast cells in the vagina. Practicing good personal hygiene is the best way to prevent yeast infections.