Yeast Infection

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What is a yeast infection?


A yeast infection is an excessive growth of fungus that naturally occurs in the vagina or mouth. When yeast infections occur in the mouth, they are also called oral thrush. Although small amounts of fungus normally grow on the body, pregnancy, hormonal changes, antibiotics, and a weakened immune system can increase the risk of getting an oral or vaginal yeast infection. Other factors that can play a role include AIDS or HIV, diabetes, and medications such as corticosteroids and estrogen-containing birth control pills. Wearing tight or damp clothing and douching can make vaginal yeast infections more likely.

Yeast infection symptoms

Symptoms of oral thrush include painful white patches on the tongue or inside the mouth or throat. Symptoms of a vaginal yeast infection include an odorless, thick, white, cottage cheese-like vaginal discharge; itching; redness; pain during sex; and pain during urination.

While vaginal yeast infections can be self-treated, it's important that you contact your physician the first time you have these symptoms to verify that a yeast infection is indeed the problem. It's also important to contact your physician any time you have these symptoms along with stomach pain, fever, or a foul-smelling vaginal discharge, since this may mean you have a bacterial infection.

Yeast infection prevention

Self-care steps you can take - in addition to medications - include eating yogurt or drinking cranberry juice. Yogurt contains the bacterium acidophilus, which is a "protective" bacterium commonly found in the vagina that can help reduce the potential for developing yeast infections. Cranberry juice has been shown to help prevent urinary tract infections and, possibly, yeast infections.

For more information on vaginal yeast infections in our Health Encyclopedia.

View yeast infection products.

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