All About Yeast Infections:
Causes, Symptoms & Treatments

What causes yeast infections, and how do you treat them?

Yeast infections are quite common. In fact, 3 in 4 women have a yeast infection at some point in their lives. They could even happen more than once.

So, what causes these pesky infections? Are there ways to avoid them? And how do you treat the infection once you have it?

Read on to find the answers to these questions and more below.

If you think you might have a yeast infection, it’s important to reach out to your well-woman care doctor right away. Quick treatment offers the best chance for resolution without complications.

What causes yeast infections?

Yeast infections originate from the natural bacteria and fungi that live in your vagina. Most of the time, these organisms stay in balance, so you don’t experience any unpleasant symptoms. However, occasionally, there can be an imbalance.

Yeast infections occur when you have too few bacteria or too many fungi in your vagina.

So, which women have the highest risk for yeast infections?

Various factors can increase a woman’s risk of developing a yeast infection, including:

  • A weakened immune system from medications, illness or diseases (like HIV)

  • A lack of sleep

  • Too much stress

  • Poor dietary habits

  • Poorly controlled diabetes (including gestational diabetes)

Additionally, wearing clothing or underwear that is too tight or wet can also increase your chance of a yeast infection. For example, women who swim increase their risk of infections if they stay in a wet swimsuit for too long. If your clothing is wet, it’s best to change into something dry as soon as possible.

What are the symptoms of a yeast infection?

A white, thick discharge similar to cottage cheese or a watery discharge are 2 of the most common symptoms. Sometimes, this discharge might have an unpleasant odor. Itching or irritation in the vaginal or vulvar regions is also common, as is burning during urination or sex.

In addition to these symptoms, your vaginal and vulvar areas may experience redness and swelling. You might also have soreness in this area.

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s a good idea to call your doctor.

Learn about common causes of vaginal irritation and home remedies that OB-GYN doctors recommend.

Learn more

How are yeast infections usually treated?

To treat an infection, your gynecologist will usually ask you a few questions and perform a pelvic exam. Sometimes, a swab test is used for laboratory confirmation. With a swab test, your treatment options will be more on target because you’ll know the exact fungi or bacteria that’s out of alignment.

The majority of yeast infections are easy for doctors to treat with minimal problems. Sometimes, pills can effectively stop the infection. Antifungal suppositories, prescriptions and over-the-counter creams may also be helpful in treating a yeast infection.

Before starting yeast infection treatment, you’ll want to get a confirmed diagnosis because there are other types of infections that can cause similar symptoms. If you use yeast infection medication when you don’t have this infection, your symptoms may worsen.

Some women have regular problems with yeast infections that happen 4 or more times yearly. In these cases, you’ll need to undergo a longer course of treatment. If you have recurrent infections, your doctor can develop a maintenance plan for you.

What if it’s not a yeast infection?

Another infection that has similar symptoms is called bacterial vaginosis. It does not respond to yeast infection treatment because it’s a bacterial infection. In these cases, an antibiotic is prescribed.

Bacterial vaginosis and yeast infections typically don’t lead to serious health problems; however, if the infection is caused by chlamydia or gonorrhea, this is not true. When left untreated, chlamydia and gonorrhea can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease, which can eventually lead to infertility.

Learn which STD tests you should get and how often.

Learn more

How can I prevent a yeast infection?

Some preventative measures you can take to prevent a yeast infection from developing include the following:

  • Stay cool and dry. Wear cotton underwear, change out of damp clothing quickly and wear loose clothing. This will help prevent an overgrowth of yeast or bacteria that might lead to an infection.

  • Avoid douches or scented feminine products. These products can change the balance of yeast and bacteria in your vagina, causing infection.

  • Change your tampon or pad frequently while on your period. Pads and tampons absorb moisture, which can lead to a yeast infection. Change them often to keep yourself dry.
  • Stay out of hot tubs or very hot baths. Hot water can cause fungus to multiply and lead to a yeast infection.

  • Take antibiotics only when necessary. Antibiotics kill both good and bad bacteria in the vagina, throwing off the balance of bacteria and yeast and sometimes causing infection. If you do need to take antibiotics, try taking a probiotic as well to prevent getting a yeast infection.

Why you should get your yeast infection treated quickly

The longer you wait to treat a yeast infection, the harder it will be to bring it under control. Sometimes, these symptoms will lead to what is known as a “complicated yeast infection.” When your infection is complicated, the symptoms will be more severe.

Tearing or cracking of the skin may appear. These symptoms are not only uncomfortable, but they can also lead to more serious infections that require stronger treatment. And unfortunately, taking stronger treatments over a long time can decrease the effectiveness of the medications.

Prompt treatment can prevent these types of issues.

Get effective yeast infection treatment from the knowledgeable OB-GYNs at All About Women

Yeast infections can be hard to distinguish from bacterial infections. If you treat a bacterial infection with products meant to treat a yeast infection, it can make the infection worse. Make sure to see an OB-GYN doctor if you suspect you have an infection so they can determine the best treatment option.

Regardless of whether you're dealing with a yeast infection or a bacterial infection with similar symptoms, you can be sure of getting the care that you need at All About Women in North Florida.

Schedule an appointment with one of our trusted and caring doctors today.