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Yeast

Candida albicans Yeast is a fungus that normally lives in the vagina in small numbers. A vaginal yeast infection means that too many yeast cells are growing in the vagina. These infections are very common. Although uncomfortable, they are not usually serious and treatment is simple.

For more information on symptoms, causes, treatments and prevention see the Overview section.

Information for Health Professionals

Yeast is a fungus that normally lives in the vagina in small numbers. A vaginal yeast infection means that too many yeast cells are growing in the vagina. These infections are very common. Although uncomfortable, yeast infections are not usually serious and easily treated.

 

In women, symptoms include itching or soreness in the vagina and sometimes causes pain or burning when you urinate or have sex. Some women also have a thick, clumpy, white discharge that has no odour and looks a little like cottage cheese (curdy).  The skin around the opening to the vagina may also look red and irritated. Symptoms of a vaginal yeast infection are more likely to occur during the week before a menstrual period.

In men, yeast can appear as a rash (red, raised dots or bumps) which may or may not be itchy.  There may be a cheesy, white discharge on the head of the penis and the foreskin can swell and become tight.

Most yeast infections are caused by a type of yeast called Candida albicans.
 
A healthy vagina has many bacteria. The common bacteria (lacto bacillis) help keep other organisms — like yeast — under control. When something happens to change the balance of these organisms, yeast can grow too much and cause symptoms. 

Things that can cause this excess growth of yeast include: 

  • Taking antibiotics.
  • Having high estrogen levels, like during pregnancy or hormone replacement therapy.
  • Certain health problems like diabetes or HIV infection.
  • Being overweight.

There are significant differences between occasional, easily treatable yeast infections and recurrent infections that seriously affect a woman's life. Recurring vaginal yeast infections can be difficult to prevent or cure. Women who have recurring yeast infections should be evaluated for other causes (such as diabetes, hormone therapy, or treatment-resistant strains of yeast) so that the cause can be treated or reversed.

See your doctor if you aren't sure what you have or if this is the first time you have had these symptoms. Also see your doctor if you are pregnant and experience these symptoms.

Your doctor may be able to diagnose your vaginal symptoms based on your medical history and a vaginal examination. If your vaginal symptoms are not typical of a yeast infection, your doctor can look for yeast or other organisms using a sample of vaginal discharge.

If you are sure your symptoms are caused by a vaginal yeast infection, waiting several days to see if the symptoms clear up on their own is not harmful, especially if you expect your menstrual period within that time. Sometimes a menstrual period will relieve the symptoms of a mild yeast infection. If your symptoms continue, you can use non-prescription medicine. If symptoms continue after treatment, see your doctor.

There are a number of treatment options for the occasional yeast infection, including non-prescription vaginal medicine and prescription oral or vaginal medicine. Only use non-prescription vaginal yeast infection treatment without a doctor's diagnosis and advice if you:

  • Are not pregnant.
  • Are sure your symptoms are caused by a vaginal yeast infection.
  • Have not been exposed to a sexually transmitted infection (STI).
  • Are not having multiple, recurrent infections.

If you may have been exposed to an STI, it is best to discuss your symptoms with your doctor before using a non-prescription medicine. Your doctor may recommend testing for STIs if you have risk factors for these diseases.

For a vaginal yeast infection that recurs within 2 months of treatment, or four times in 1 year, see your doctor. Further testing or a different treatment may be needed. If you have been using a non-prescription medicine for your vaginal symptoms, be sure to tell your doctor. This information could affect what treatment is recommended.

You can take the following actions to help prevent a vaginal yeast infection:

  • Wear cotton and avoid tight-fitting clothing.
  • Avoid douching.
  • Avoid unnecessary use of antibiotics.
  • Control diabetes.
  • Avoid a diet with high sugar content.


 
SOURCE: Yeast ( )
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