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Vaginal Yeast Infections

Facts About Vaginal Yeast Infection

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Updated May 30, 2014

Seventy-five percent of all women will experience at least one vaginal yeast infection during her life and many are plagued by recurrent yeast infections. Learning to recognize the symptoms of vaginal yeast infection is vital before women attempt self-treatment.

Symptoms of yeast infection include itching, burning, redness, and irritation of the vaginal area. Severe yeast infections may cause swelling of the vulva and in some cases women experience painful and/or frequent urination which is caused by inflammation of the urinary opening.

Excessive vaginal discharge which is thicker than normal, appears whiter and curd-like (almost like cottage cheese) will be apparent in women experiencing vaginal yeast infections. Sexual intercourse may be painful due to the inflammation and dryness of the vaginal discharge.

What Causes Yeast Infections?

Canidida albicans is a yeast-like fungus that is often found in the mouth, vagina, and intestinal tract; it is a normal inhabitant of humans that usually does not cause any adverse effects. Canidida of the mouth is known as thrush and is often found in infants and people with a variety of health conditions. When canidida is found in the vagina it is known as yeast infection or monilial vaginitis.

Yeast infections are caused by an overgrowth of the normal fungi that lives in the vaginal area. The most common fungi is Canidida albicans. Overgrowth of Canidida is often a result of recent use of antibiotics, or by wearing clothing such as nylon or lycra that traps moisture and heat. Other factors that often contribute to yeast infections include pregnancy, obesity, PMS, multiple sclerosis, and diabetes.

Yeast infections are common among women infected by HIV and women who suffer from recurrent episodes of yeast infection should be tested for HIV infection. Other possible causes include the use of oral contraceptives, and consuming large amounts of sugars, starch, and yeasts.

If it's Not a Yeast Infection, What Could it Be?

Bacterial vaginitis is a far more prevalent vaginal infection than yeast infection and is characterized by a foul odor which is not present in yeast infection. Untreated bacterial vaginitis can result in pelvic inflammatory disease and lead to future infertility. It is imperative that a woman who is self-treating what she thinks is a yeast infection be positive that her vaginal infection is actually caused by yeast and not some other infection or STD.

Sexually transmitted diseases such as gonorrhea and herpes can be mistaken for yeast infections because some of the symptoms are similar -- there is discharge associated with gonorrhea, and herpes may often cause itching. Unless a woman is absolutely positive that her vaginal infection is yeast, she should seek the advice of her physician before self-treatment begins.

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