Possible Symptoms of a Vaginal Yeast Infection

What To Look Out For and How To Get Healthy Again

woman at gynecology consultation

A yeast infection, also called candidiasis, is a fungal infection caused by candida, a type of yeast. A vaginal yeast infection affects both the vagina and the vulva (the tissues at the opening of the vagina). It's caused by an overgrowth of the normal fungi that lives in the vaginal area.

This overgrowth is often the result of the recent use of antibiotics, or of wearing clothing such as nylon or lycra that traps in moisture and heat.

Other factors that often contribute to yeast infections include pregnancy, obesity, PMS, multiple sclerosis, and diabetes. Still other possible causes include the use of oral contraceptives, or the consumption of large amounts of sugars, starches, and yeasts.

There are a number of symptoms you may experience if you have a vaginal yeast infection. They include:

  • vaginal itching
  • vaginal burning
  • vaginal irritation
  • painful urination
  • painful sexual intercourse
  • odorless vaginal discharge (may be thick whitish-gray and cottage-cheese-like or may be watery in consistency) 

If you notice any of these symptoms, you should schedule an appointment with your gynecologist. She'll be able to test you for this infection, confirm a diagnosis, and then provide you with a prescription for an oral medication or recommend an over-the-counter cream.

How Can I Avoid This Uncomfortable Infection in the Future?

There are several things you can do to avoid a vaginal yeast infection going forward.

First of all, you can tackle the problem pieces in your wardrobe. Always wear cotton underpants so as to allow your nether regions to breathe, and avoid the use of nylon and lycra as much as possible. And never wear pantyhose without wearing cotton underpants underneath.

Next, think of the small changes you can make to your sexual activity.

Using a personal lubricant during sexual intercourse can be helpful in preventing vaginal discomfort and irritation.

You might need to change your bathroom habits, too. Yeast is a normal inhabitant of the intestinal tract, so you should always wipe from front to back after a bowel movement to prevent transferring yeast to the vaginal area.

Some women also find that eating one cup of yogurt a day when taking antibiotics is helpful to prevent yeast infections.

Finally, avoid perfumed bath additives, as well as powders, in the vaginal area. Douching is never a good idea since it washes away the natural protective mucus of the vagina and leaves women susceptible to vaginal infections.

If, after all this effort, you still get yourself a yeast infection, don't worry. It's easy enough to treat and, at most, will just be a below-the-belt pest for a short period of time.

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