A vaginal yeast infection, which is also sometimes called vulvovaginal candidiasis occurs when the healthy yeast that normally lives in the vaginal area grows out of control. It often leads to itching and other irritating symptoms. The medical name for a yeast infection is "candidiasis," because they’re usually caused by a type of yeast called candida.
If your vaginal chemistry gets thrown off balance, the normal yeast that live in your vagina can grow too much and lead to an infection. Some things that can cause changes in your vagina’s environment are:
- normal changes in hormone levels (like during your menstrual cycle)
- antibiotics, cortisone, and other drugs
- a weak immune system
- a natural reaction to another person’s genital chemistry
Yeast infections can happen on penises and scrotums too, but it’s not as common. They can cause redness and irritation on the penis or scrotum. People can also get a yeast infection on their mouth, throat, or tongue — that’s called “thrush.”
What are yeast infection symptoms?
Yeast infections often cause thick, white, clumpy vaginal discharge that usually doesn’t smell (or only smells slightly different than normal). You might also have a creamy, whitish coating in and around your vagina. Most yeast infections lead to itching, burning, and/or redness in or around the vagina. Vaginal itching usually gets worse the longer you have the infection. Sex may be uncomfortable or painful. In extreme cases, you can get fissures or sores on your vagina or vulva. If you have lots of irritation, it may sting during urination.
How do I treat yeast infections?
Yeast infections can usually be cured easily in a few days with anti-fungal medicine. You can get a prescription of antifungal pills, creams or suppositories for yeast infection. Make sure you follow the directions and use all of the prescribed medicine, even if your symptoms go away before treatment is completed. Don’t have vaginal or oral sex, or put anything into your vagina, until you’ve finished treatment and your infection goes away. Friction from sex can cause more irritation or make it harder to heal. And some medicines that you use in your vagina have oil in them, which can cause condoms to break. Even though yeast infections can be really itchy, try not to scratch. It can make irritation worse or cause cuts in your skin, which can spread germs and lead to more infection. There are over-the-counter creams that you can use on your vulva to help calm the irritation. Your doctor can also give you tips on relieving burning and itching.