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Symptoms, causes, and treatments for Yeast Infection
Symptoms of a Yeast Infection
Genital yeast infections, also called candidiasis, are a type of fungal infection that occurs in and around the genitals of both men and women.
Common symptoms of a yeast infection include:
- Burning urination
- Genital rash
- Pain or discomfort during sex
- Vaginal irritation or discharge
- Vulvar redness
Causes of a Yeast Infection
Although men can contract a yeast infection, they’re more common in women. Pregnant women in particular highly susceptible to yeast infections because of changes in estrogen production over the course of a pregnancy. Shifts in estrogen levels affect the body’s balance of vaginal bacteria and naturally occurring yeast.
The bacteria candida albicans is one of the main contributors of vaginal yeast infections. Other bacteria can trigger an infection, but are much less common.
If the balance between your natural vaginal chemistry of bacteria and yeast is impacted, then you may experience an excess production of yeast in your vagina leading to a yeast infection.
Other common causes of yeast infections include:
- Immune disorders
- Oral contraceptives
Even though yeast infections can be triggered by sex, especially oral-to-genital sex, doctors don’t classify them as sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
Should I Be Worried?
It’s likely for a woman to experience one or more yeast infections during her lifetime. Because environmental causes and changes in lifestyle can directly impact the balance of bacteria and yeast in the body, it’s not uncommon to have a yeast infection from time to time.
Some women are able to self-manage a yeast infection by applying non-prescription topical cream when they notice symptoms.
However, if you’ve had four or more yeast infections within a year, or your symptoms don’t disappear after using non-prescription treatments, you should see a doctor and discuss treatment options. Delaying medical care for persistent infections can cause complications and a more severe infection.
Generally you should see a doctor when:
- It’s your first yeast infection
- Itching, redness, and burning persist around your vulva
- You have “cottage cheese” vaginal discharge
- You’re unsure if your symptoms are due to a yeast infection
- Your symptoms don’t clear up after using a non-prescription topical treatment
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Yeast Infection Prevention Tips
Consider these tips to help prevent yeast infections:
- Beware the skinny jeans. We all suffer for fashion. However, some tight pants and leggings can produce an environment conducive to changing the balance of your natural vaginal bacteria and yeast.
- Be cool in cotton. Clothing made from natural materials like cotton and linen are more breathable and thus more helpful to your downstairs area. Any dampness trapped by super tight pants is likelier to evaporate when they’re made of cotton instead of synthetic fabrics.
- Have a yogurt (or two). Yogurt contains several beneficial species of bacteria called lactobacillus that can help regulate your natural production of yeast and reduce your chances of infection.