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Quick Facts

Vaginal Yeast Infection (Candidiasis)


The Manual's Editorial Staff

Last full review/revision Sep 2019| Content last modified Sep 2019
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What are vaginal yeast infections?

Yeast called Candida is a type of fungus. Some Candida live in your vagina all the time. Your vagina connects your uterus (where a baby grows when you're pregnant) to the outside of your body. Some people call it the birth canal. A vaginal yeast infection happens when too many yeast cells grow in your vagina.

  • These infections are very common and aren't usually serious

  • Yeast infections are most common when you’re pregnant, have diabetes, or are taking antibiotics

  • Symptoms may get worse the week before your monthly period starts and include vaginal itching and discharge

  • Antifungal medicines are used to treat yeast infections

Internal Female Genital Organs

Internal Female Genital Organs

What are the symptoms of yeast infections?

  • Itchiness of your vagina and vulva (the area on the outside of your body at the opening of your vagina)

  • A thick, white vaginal discharge that looks a little like cottage cheese

Symptoms may get worse the week before your monthly period starts.

How can my doctor tell if I have a yeast infection?

Your doctor will suspect a yeast infection based on your symptoms. To tell for sure, your doctor will do a pelvic exam. During a pelvic exam, your doctor looks at your vulva and inside your vagina. In order to see inside, your doctor will hold your vagina open with a small instrument called a speculum. During the exam, your doctor will use a cotton swab to take a sample of discharge from your vagina and test it.

How do doctors treat yeast infections?

Yeast infections are treated with antifungal medicines. These are available as:

  • Creams, ointments, or suppositories that you put in your vagina (you can get these without a prescription)

  • Prescription pills you take by mouth

The oils in antifungal creams and ointments can weaken condoms made of latex. If you plan to have sex while using one of these medicines, use a different form of birth control, like a diaphragm, but also use a condom to prevent sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

If you have a high risk of getting yeast infections, you may need to take an antifungal medicine by mouth to prevent them. Needing to take antibiotics for a long time puts you at a high risk for yeast infections.

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