Vaginal yeast infection is a fungal infection of the vagina caused by the fungus Candida albicans. Yeast is normally present in the vagina in small numbers, but infection occurs when the cells begin to proliferate. The factors that promote yeast growth are obesity, diabetes, certain antibiotics and pregnancy. Yeast infection does not normally spread through sexual contact; however, some men may develop itching and rash on the penis following unprotected sexual intercourse.
The symptoms of vaginal yeast infection include itching of the vagina, abnormal vaginal discharge (thick, white discharge), pain during urination and intercourse, redness and swelling of the vulva. Your doctor may conduct a pelvic examination to look for swelling, redness and cracks on the skin of the vulva, and white spots on the vaginal wall. Your doctor may also examine the vaginal discharge under a microscope and order a culture test if the infection does not subside.
Vaginal yeast infections are treated with antifungal medicines in the form of creams, tablets, ointments or suppositories (that are inserted into the vagina).
Vaginal yeast infections can be prevented by the following:
- Change your sanitary pads often during your periods
- Avoid douching
- Avoid scented hygiene products like sprays and powders in the genital region
- Keep your genital region clean and dry
- Avoid tight underwear made of synthetic fibers
- Change out of wet clothes as soon as you can
- Eat yogurt to replenish normal flora of the body when you are prescribed antibiotics
- Avoid using tampons