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Facts About...

Vulvovaginal Candidiasis (Yeast)

What is it?

Vulvovaginal candidiasis (yeast) is a common, mild vaginal infection in females caused by an overgrowth of a fungus called Candida. Yeast is normally found in the vagina in small numbers. A vaginal yeast infection means too many yeast cells are growing in the vagina leading to symptoms of yeast. Pregnancy, diabetes, use of antibiotics, having a weak immune system and some birth control methods (intrauterine device (IUD) diaphragm and sponge) may cause a yeast infection.

How is it spread?

A yeast infection is generally not considered a sexually transmitted infection (STI) but in very rare occasions can be passed to male and female partners with unprotected sexual activity. Often there are no specific reasons why the infection occurs and some women get yeast infections many times.

What do I look for?

Females may experience an abnormal amount of thick, white, clumpy discharge (like cottage cheese). Vaginal itching (mild to severe), or vaginal soreness, irritation or burning (when urinating and during sex) may also occur. If this is your first time having symptoms, and/or you are pregnant, it is best to be tested by a health care provider or at a Durham Region Health Department sexual health clinic prior to self-treatment.

How is it treated?

Once a yeast infection is confirmed and there are symptoms, it is easily treated with over-the-counter or prescription anti-fungal medications that are either inserted into the vagina or taken by mouth. For pregnant and breastfeeding women, vaginal treatment is preferred. If using vaginal treatment, it is best to avoid sex as the treatment can lower the effectiveness of condoms.

How can I protect myself?

Females can lower the chance of developing a yeast infection by keeping the genitals clean and dry. Do not wear wet clothing for a long period of time, and avoid vaginal douching, using vaginal deodorants or perfumed products that can irritate the vagina. Wearing cotton underwear instead of synthetic fabrics and wearing loose fitted clothing can help to lower the chance of a yeast infection.

September 5, 2016