What is a yeast infection ?

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A yeast infection is another type of vaginal infection, but this form of vaginitis is the result of a fungus, not bacteria. A yeast infection occurs when the yeast naturally present on your body, usually a type called candida, grows out of control and causes an infection in your vagina and/or vulva. It can happen for a variety of reasons, including a compromised immune system, more frequent sex or pregnancy. Some people, such as those with diabetes, are also more prone to yeast infections. Yeast infections are not sexually transmitted infections (STIs), but sex can lead to a yeast infection, as intercourse can cause small breaks in the skin that allow more yeast to grow.
Vaginal yeast infections are incredibly common: about 3 out of 4 women experience them at some point in their lives, and many experience at least two. The symptoms can appear very similar to those of BV, but with some important distinctions:

  • Vaginal itching and/or irritation of the vulva
  • Pain and soreness
  • Thick, white vaginal discharge that’s odor-free and resembles cottage cheese
  • Vaginal discharge with a watery consistency
  • A burning sensation with urination and/or sex
  • Redness and swelling of the vulva

Like BV, any woman can get yeast infections. However, some activities or behaviors can upset the normal flora in the vagina and put women at increased risk including:

  • Taking regular antibiotics may lead to the decrease in the “good” (or lactobacillus) bacteria causing yeast to grow.
  • Taking birth control pills that contain estrogen can sometimes lead to yeast infections.
  • Major hormonal changes including pregnancy may lead to a yeast infection.
  • People with diabetes or high blood sugar are more likely to contract one.
  • People with weakened immune systems are more likely to contract one.