OMG, there it was—the vaginal itching…thick, white, lumpy discharge (like cottage cheese!)…soreness…irritation and burning. I was scared and afraid I may have had an STD. But after some initial research and a talk with my gyno, I found out I had the symptoms of a vaginal yeast infection. It was my first yeast infection, and what I learned was that the symptoms of STDs and vaginal yeast infections are similar, but there are some differences to look out for, and that vaginal yeast infections are common, they’re treatable, they’re really no big deal. What a relief!
What is a vaginal yeast infection and what causes it?
A vaginal yeast infection is a common condition inside the vagina caused by an ovegrowth of yeast (Candida) that normally live in the vagina. Your healthcare professional may call this infection "candidiasis". Some women may have burning, itching, or irritation on the skin outside the vagina (vulva) at the same time that they have a vaginal yeast infection
So, if yeast infections are triggered by overgrowth of yeast, what causes it? Basically it happens because either there’s too much food for the yeast (like hormones) or the good bacteria keeping the yeast levels in check has been wiped out. Here are some possible yeast infection causes:
Too much food for yeast to grow…
- Menstruation: Changes in hormone levels during a normal menstrual cycle can result in occasional or recurrent yeast infections.
- Increased Estrogen Levels: Women who are taking birth control pills that have a high-dose of estrogen as well as those on estrogen hormone therapy are more susceptible to developing a yeast infection.
- Pregnancy: Increased levels of estrogen during pregnancy make women more susceptible to yeast infections.
- Diabetes: Whether controlled or uncontrolled, diabetes puts women at higher risk for developing a yeast infection because of the extra glucose that’s not being properly metabolized.
Not enough bacteria to keep yeast in check…
- Antibiotics: Broad-spectrum antibiotics kill healthy lactobacillus bacteria (“good bacteria”) in the vagina, which enables yeast to overgrow.
- Cancer Treatments: Undergoing chemotherapy treatments creates a greater risk for developing a yeast infection.
- Impaired Immune System: Women with weakened immunity from corticosteroid therapy or HIV infections are at greater risk for developing a yeast infection.
Be sure it’s a vaginal yeast infection
It’s really important to make sure it’s a vaginal yeast infection—and not something else—based on the symptoms I talked about above. If you have other symptoms, it could be something else. Vaginal yeast infections do NOT cause foul-smelling vaginal discharge, fever, chills, lower abdominal, back or shoulder pain, or a missed period. These could be signs of bacterial vaginosis (BV), a sexually transmitted disease (STD) or a tubal pregnancy. If you have these symptoms, be sure to call your doctor right away.
Another way to help determine whether or not it’s a yeast infection, is a simple test you can use at home. The Vaginal Health Test from MONISTAT® is the same test used in doctor’s offices, and is super easy to use.
Relieve symptoms faster
There’s no reason why a yeast infection should hold you back from your routine! Once you know what it is, the next step is finding out how to treat a yeast infection. After your doctor confirms that it's a yeast infection, reach for MONISTAT®. MONISTAT® is the #1 OTC (over-the-counter) yeast infection brand and relieves yeast infection symptoms 4x faster than the leading prescription pill.
If this is your first yeast infection, it's important to talk with your healthcare professional first to confirm the diagnosis. Not sure what to ask? There are some questions about your first yeast infection to discuss with your doctor below.
Reach for MONISTAT®
MONISTAT® comes in 3 doses: highest dose MONISTAT® 1, regular strength MONISTAT® 3, and low dose MONISTAT® 7. Regardless of which product you choose, you should begin to experience some symptom relief after 3 days and complete relief in 7 days.