Introduction to Yeast infections
Yeast is a type of fungus that normally lives in and around the body, notably in the vagina. A yeast infection occurs when there is an overgrowth of the fungus.
What is a Yeast infection?
Yeast is a type of fungus that normally lives in and around the body, notably in the vagina. A yeast infection occurs when there is an overgrowth of the fungus. Yeast infections are very common and most women will experience them in their lifetime. They are rarely serious and can be easily treated.
What causes a Yeast infection?
Yeast infections are usually caused by the overgrowth of a yeast called Candida albicans. There are many things that can interrupt the complex balance of bacteria, yeast and pH in the vagina and often upset to these levels is what causes the infection. For example, using antibiotics, taking medications with high oestrogen levels, having diabetes, being overweight, using steroids or having an impaired immune system are all possible causes of yeast infections. Candida albicans is the most common type of yeast and responds well to treatment.
What are the symptoms of a Yeast infection?
The most common symptom of a yeast infection is severe itching in and around the vagina. Other symptoms include vaginal discharge, which is white, clumpy and does not smell, pain on urination, pain during sex and red sore skin around the vagina. Often symptoms of a yeast infection are most severe a week before your period is due to start. Other conditions such as sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and simple skin irritations can cause similar symptoms to those of a yeast infection, so it is important that if you experience any of these to go and see a specialist sexual health doctor.
How is a Yeast infection treated?
There are several treatments for a yeast infection. You can get non-prescription and prescription medication, both as a tablet or to use topically on the vagina. There are certain criteria you must fulfil before taking this medication, such as not being pregnant and not having an STI, so it is important that you read the medication packaging and if you are in any doubt, to seek professional medical advice.