A yeast infections is an excess growth of yeast organisms in the vagina due to an imbalance among the normal vaginal microorganisms. Yeast infections are common in women of childbearing age. They can cause severe discomfort but rarely cause serious problems. Common symptoms of yeast infections include (often severe) in the genital area, white, curdy, usually odorless vaginal discharge, painful urination, and pain during intercourse. The skin around the vagina (labia) may be red and pain on urination and feel the need to urinate often. Yeast infections are not sexually transmitted. However, some doctors feel that treating your male sexual partner may help prevent chronic, recurrent infections. Yeast infections (candidiasis) are commonly associated with antibiotic or steroid use, pregnancy, diabetes, and illnesses that impair the immune system. In addition, irritation caused by frequent douching, tight clothing, or use of strong soaps or perfumed feminine hygiene products may contribute to vaginal irritation or infection.

Prevention:

  • Eat a cup of yogurt that contains live Lactobacillus organisms each day.
  • Wear  cotton or cotton-lined underwear. Avoid tight-fitting pants and undergarments. They increase body heat, which may allow yeast to grow more easily in your vagina.
  • Avoid feminine sprays, talcs, or perfumes in your vaginal area, which may affect the balance among the microorganisms in your vagina. Do not douche unless told to by your health professional.
  • Wipe your vaginal area from front to back after using the toilet and when bathing.
  • It is not clear that a high-sugar diet causes yeast infections, but limiting sugar may help.

Home Treatment:

Left untreated, vaginal yeast infections often clear up on their own usually when menstruation begins. Be sure your symptoms indicate a yeast infection before self treatment.

  • Use an over-the- counter anti fungal medication for yeast infections (Gyne-Lotrimin, Monistat 7) as directed.
  • Drink acidophilus milk or eat yougurt with live Lactobacillus cultures regularly.
  • Use a yogurt douche containing live lactobacillus culture. Talk with your doctor before using a yogurt douche.
  • Avoid excessive cleaning of the vaginal area. Wash once a day with plain water or a mild, non-perfumed soap.
  • Consider using condoms while being treated to avoid (possibly) being reinfected by your sexual partner. If intercourse is painful, use a water-soluble lubricant (K-Y Jelly) to reduce irritation.

When to Call a Health Professional: 

  • If you have pelvic or lower abdominal pain, fever, and unusual vaginal discharge.
  • If you think you have a yeast infection for the first time, or if you aren’t sure whether your symptoms are due to a yeast infection.
  • If home treatment with an OTC product fails to clear up a yeast infection within three or four days, or if you are using antifungal creams repeatedly.
  • If you have pain with intercourse that is not caused by use of a vaginal lubricant.
  • If any unusual discharge lasts more than two weeks.

If you plan to see a health professional, do not douche, use vaginal creams, or have intercourse for 48 hours before your appointment, since they make the diagnosis difficult.