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Vaginal Yeast Infection: Taking Care of Yourself

A vaginal yeast infection happens when there is too much yeast (a type of germ) in the vagina. A yeast infection causes vaginal discharge, itching, or burning. Yeast infections are treated with medicine taken by mouth (pills) or put into the vagina using an applicator (cream or pill).

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  • Use the medicine as prescribed by the health care provider.

  • Be sure to finish all doses of the medicine, even if you start to feel better. If you stop the medicine too soon, the infection could come back.

  • To soothe pain or itching in the vaginal area, you can soak once or twice a day in a tub of warm water (without soap) for 10–15 minutes.

  • If you are sexually active, be aware that:

    • Yeast infections can spread to another person during sex. It’s best to wait until the infection has cleared before having sex again. Any partner with burning, redness, irritation, or discharge should see a health care provider.

    • Medicine that is given vaginally can weaken condoms and diaphragms. Do not rely on condoms or diaphragms to prevent pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections (STIs, also called sexually transmitted diseases, or STDs) while using this type of medicine.

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  • You still have pain, itching, redness, or discharge after taking all the medicine.

  • You have new or worsening symptoms.

  • You get better, but then show signs of a yeast infection again.

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What causes vaginal yeast infections? Yeast infections are caused by a fungus called Candida. Candida often lives quietly in the body and doesn’t cause problems unless something makes it grow too much. This can happen, for example, in girls:

  • right before their periods

  • while taking some kinds of medicines, such as antibiotics and steroids

  • if they use some types of birth control

  • if they have diabetes and their blood sugar is not well-controlled

There’s no good evidence showing that yeast infections are linked to hygiene or tight synthetic clothing.

How do health care providers diagnose yeast infections? Health care providers diagnose a yeast infection based on symptoms and examination of the vagina. They’ll also send a sample of vaginal discharge (taken by wiping a swab inside the vagina) to the lab to be looked at under a microscope.

If I feel signs of another yeast infection, can I start treatment again? If you get better and then have signs of another yeast infection, see your health care provider before starting any treatment at home. This way, you can be sure it’s really a yeast infection and that you get the right medicine.

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