Yeast is a very common fungus that normally lives in a woman's body. When it overgrows in the vagina, it can cause uncomfortable symptoms. Yeast is usually not sexually transmitted. However, some men can have symptoms.
What are the symptoms?
- white, thick "cottage cheese-like" vaginal discharge
- mild to severe vaginal itching and burning
- red, sore labia (vaginal lips)
- pain, and/or burning when passing urine and with sex
- sometimes no symptoms
- usually no symptoms
- irritation, redness or dry, flakey skin at tip of the penis or under the foreskin
- pain when passing urine
How is yeast diagnosed?
A vaginal swab is taken and sent to the lab. Yeast sometimes shows up on a woman's Pap test. It is important to have a test to rule out other infections.
Your doctor will examine your penis for redness or irritation.
How is it treated?
Yeast infections are usually treated with vaginal creams or suppositories such as Monistat, Gynecure or Canesten, or with an oral pill such as Fluconazole or Canesoral, which can be purchased at the drug store without prescription. If this treatment does not work, you may need to see a doctor for prescription creams or pills. Treatment of male partners is usually unnecessary. If men are uncomfortable, they may use the same cream as well. Avoid intercourse during treatment and for one week later to allow the area to heal.
Also, be aware that many anti-fungal creams reduce the effectiveness of latex condoms and diaphragms during treatment and for 3 days afterwards.
You can get the infection many times. Yeast infections are more common during pregnancy, or when a woman is on antibiotics or birth control pills.
Women with diabetes or who are overweight often have repeated yeast infections, possibly due to higher blood sugar levels.
Steps to help prevent yeast infections:
- wear cotton underwear; avoid nylon underwear, pantyhose and tight jeans because they tend to hold moisture in the crotch area
- keep the crotch area clean and dry; wash with plain water or a mild soap
- wipe from the front to back so you do not bring bacteria from the bowel into the vaginal area
- do not use bubble baths, oils, and commercial hygiene sprays
- do not douche, as this can irritate the vaginal lining, disturb the natural balance and increase the risk of infection
- do not use deodorant tampons or pads
- eat balanced meals and try to stay away from foods high in sugar
Home remedies to treat or prevent yeast
- Get Lactobacillus acidophilus capsules at a health food store. Either crush the tablet or open the capsule and moisten with water to make a paste. Put the paste into the vagina twice a day*. Acidophilus capsules may also be taken by mouth. Some women find this helps to prevent yeast infections.
- Put 1 teaspoon of unsweetened yogurt (that contains lactobacillus) into the vagina twice a day*. Women who eat a single 8 ounce serving of unsweetened yogurt (active lactobacillus acidophilus cultures) daily may reduce the number of yeast infections.
*Applicators from contraceptive foam or gel, your finger or the end of a tampon can be used for this purpose.
Add a few drops of tea tree oil and 1 cup of vinegar (or baking soda) in a shallow sitz bath. (A sitz bath is a warm water bath taken in a sitting position that covers only the hips and buttocks.) A sitz bath can help to ease the symptoms of a yeast infection such as itching, burning and swelling, but it is not a cure.
Place a cold compress or ice pack on your vulva to relieve burning and itching.