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Yeast Infections and Vaginitis

Yeast Infections at a Glance:

  • Very common
  • Easily treated
  • Should be diagnosed by a health care provider

What is a Yeast Infection?
As weird as it might sound, it is normal for yeast to live and grow in your mouth, intestine and vagina. However, a yeast infection can occur when a certain yeast called candida grows too much.

What is the different between a Yeast Infection and Vaginitis?
Vaginitis is an irritation of the vagina or vulva. This irritation can have all sorts of underlying causes (one example is a yeast infection, another is bacterial vaginosis).

Yeast infections are often blamed for anything that might be off-balance down there; however, yeast infections are only one cause of vaginitis. There are many other common causes, so before you begin any over-the-counter treatments, visit your local Planned Parenthood health center to get tested first.

What causes yeast infections?
The yeast, candida, often starts to grow too much because the normal conditions of the vagina have been changed. The normal balance can get thrown off due to:

  • certain antibiotics
  • diabetes
  • certain drugs (like cortisone)
  • changes in hormone levels
  • pregnancy
  • and more

Can men get yeast infections?
Yes, men can get yeast infections, too! A male yeast infection can appear as a reddish rash or irritation on the penis or scrotum. If you think you might have a male yeast infection come in to Planned Parenthood to find out for sure.

What are the symptoms of a yeast infection?
Yeast infection symptoms include abnormal vaginal discharge that is thick, white, and odorless, as well as itching or burning. If you have either of these symptoms, see a health care professional at your local Planned Parenthood health center to get tested and treated.

How is a yeast infection treated?
There are many different treatments for a yeast infection including pills, creams, suppositories and vaginal tablets. Many of these treatments are available over the counter. Visit your local Planned Parenthood health center before picking up your over-the-counter medications to be sure that you are following the right treatment plan.

How can you prevent yeast infections?
You can help prevent getting a yeast infection by following some of these best practices:

  • Hygiene
    • Yeast likes to grow in damp places, so keep your genital area as dry as possible
    • Wash regularly with soap and water
    • Rinse and dry thoroughly
    • Use dry towels
    • Don't share towels
    • Avoid sitting in a wet bathing suit
  • Sex
    • Do not have vaginal intercourse if you think you or your partner might have any sort of infection
    • Always use a condom or a female condom

What should you do?
Although yeast infections are not always the most serious health problem, only a health care professional can tell if you really have a yeast infection and not something more serious.

You should visit your local Planned Parenthood health center and talk with a health care professional if

  • you have abnormal discharge, odor, irritation, bleeding or pain
  • your treatment is not working

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