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About Yeast Infections

Yeast infections are a common cause of irritation of the vagina and vulva (area around the opening to the vagina). About 75 percent of women have a vaginal yeast infection during their lives.

Symptoms

Symptoms of vaginal yeast infections in women may be mild or very uncomfortable. Symptoms may include:

  • Itching, burning, and irritation of the vagina
  • Itching, redness and irritation of the vulva
  • Painful urination and/or intercourse
  • Abnormal vaginal discharge, usually described as looking like cottage cheese. But discharge may vary in amount and appearance. It does not have a bad odor.

Symptoms of yeast infections can be similar to symptoms of other kinds of vaginal infections.

Causes

Conditions that may make yeast infections more likely include:

  • Pregnancy and other causes of hormone changes.
  • Use of oral contraceptives (birth control pills).
  • Diabetes that isn't well controlled. High blood sugar can help yeast to multiply.
  • A weakened immune system.
  • Use of steroid drugs.
  • Use of antibiotics. Antibiotic drugs kill bacteria in the body including the vagina, allowing yeast to multiply and cause an infection.

Yeast infections seem to be only rarely passed from one person to another through sexual contact. A male partner of a woman with a yeast infection usually will have no symptoms, but some men may get an itchy rash on the penis.

Treatment 

Yeast infections are treated with antifungal drugs, such as clotrimazole or miconazole. There are creams and tablets used in the vagina, skin ointments, and pills.

Natural Remedies

Lactobacillus acidophilus is a species of friendly bacteria that is an integral part of normal vaginal flora.

Lactobacilli help to maintain the vaginal ecosystem by preventing the overgrowth of unfriendly bacteria and Candida. Lactobacilli produce lactic acid, which acts like a natural antibiotic.

Boric acid capsules inserted in the vagina have been used successfully as a treatment for vaginal yeast infections.

References for Yeast Infection Article

Hilton E, Isenberg HD, Alperstein P, et al. Ingestion of yogurt containing Lactobacillus acidophilus as prophylaxis for candidal vaginitis. Ann Intern Med 1992;116:353-7.

Jovanovic R, Congema E, Nguyen HT. Antifungal agents vs. boric acid for treating chronic mycotic vulvovaginitis. J Reprod Med 1977;36:593-7.

Coeugniet E, Kuhnast R. Recurrent candidiasis: Adjuvant immunotherapy with different formulations of Echinacin┬«. Therapiewoche 1986;36:3352-8.

National Institutes of Health

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