What Are the Basics of Yeast Infections?

What is the definition of yeast infection?

Yeast is a fungus that commonly lives in the vagina. If there are too many yeast cells growing in the vagina, a vaginal yeast infection may happen.

It is a type of inflammation of the vagina. The condition can be common and mostly not serious.

Medications can treat vaginal yeast infections. If the infections are often recurring, a longer treatment course is required.


What are the common symptoms of yeast infections?

Symptoms of yeast infections include:

  • Itching and irritation in the vagina
  • Itching and irritation in the vulva
  • Feeling of burning, especially during urinating and intercourse
  • Redness and swelling around the vulva
  • Pain and soreness in the vagina
  • Rash in the vagina
  • Watery vaginal discharge
  • Thick, white, and odorless vaginal discharge resembling cottage cheese


What are the signs of a complicated yeast infection?

Although the symptoms are often not serious, sometimes the conditions can be complicated and need more care.

You may have a complicated yeast infection if:

  • You have uncontrolled diabetes
  • Your immune system is not strong as usual
  • You are pregnant
  • Your infection is caused by a less common type of candida

Signs of a complicated yeast infection include:

  • Recurring yeast infections, like four or more times in a year
  • Severe symptoms that cause sores


What are the causes of yeast infections?

In the vagina, there is a balanced mix of yeast (including candida) and bacteria. Lactobacillus bacteria can prevent yeast from overgrowing by producing acid. Once the balance is disrupted, too many yeast cells may lead to an infection.

These following conditions can lead to overgrowth of yeast:

  • Pregnancy
  • Antibiotic use that reduces lactobacillus bacteria in the vagina
  • Uncontrolled diabetes
  • Weakened immune system
  • Increased estrogen levels.

Mostly, it is the candida albicans, a type of fungus, that causes your yeast infection.

What are the causes of yeast infections in men?

Yeast infections can also occur in men. Candida, the fungus that causes yeast infections, is commonly present on skin, especially on moist skin. If candida overgrows on skin, a yeast infection may occur.

You may be more likely to have the infection if you:

  • Use antibiotics for a long period
  • Have diabetes
  • Aren’t circumcised
  • Have a weakened immune system
  • Are overweight
  • Have poor personal hygiene


What are the symptoms of yeast infections in men?

Signs of symptoms of yeast infections in men, or balanitis include:

  • Redness, itching of feeling of burning on the penis
  • Moist skin on the penis
  • Shiny, white skin on the penis


What are the treatments for yeast infections?

If your yeast infection is uncomplicated, you may take:

  • Over-the-counter treatment
    This includes an over-the-counter cream or suppository.
  • Oral medication
    Your doctor may prescribe a single-dose oral medication. It is the antifungal fluconazole.
  • Vaginal therapy
    This short-course treatment includes several antifungal medications, such as creams, ointments, pills and suppositories. Some are available over-the-counter, while others need your doctor’s prescription.

If your yeast infection is complicated, you may need:

  • Long-course vaginal therapy
    Medications of this treatment include creams, ointments, pills and suppositories.
  • Oral medication
    Your doctor may prescribe multi-dose oral medication. If you are pregnant, it is better to choose other treatments.
  • Maintenance plan
    If you have recurrent infections, your doctor may make maintenance plan to prevent it from happening again.


What are the medications for yeast infections?

If your situation is uncomplicated, you can choose over-the-counter creams and suppositories. These medications may bring feeling or burning or irritation.

However, if your infection is complicated, you may need prescription drugs. These include:

  • Antifungal vaginal creams
  • Oral antifungal medications
    If you are pregnant, you should not take fluconazole (Diflucan). Otherwise, it may lead to miscarriage or birth defects.

It is recommended to consult a doctor before you take any medication, especially when you are pregnant.


How do the doctor know whether you get yeast infections?

To diagnose a yeast infection, the doctor may:

  • Ask you questions about your medical history
    Your doctor needs to know whether you have once had yeast infections. He or she also needs to make sure whether your condition is trasmitted by intercourse.
  • Give you a pelvic exam
    Your doctor needs to find signs of infection.
  • Test a sample of your vaginal discharge
    Your vaginal discharge can tell the type of fungus that leads to the infection. Then more effective treatments can be given on the basis of the type of fungus.


Here are some basics of yeast infections. If you need more information, you can consult a doctor for professional guidance.

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* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.