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Understanding Vaginal Yeast Infections: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Yeast Infection Consultation

Vaginal health is an integral part of a woman's overall well-being, and one common concern that many women face is vaginal yeast infections. These infections, caused by an overgrowth of Candida fungus, can lead to uncomfortable symptoms and disrupt daily life. In this article, we will delve into what a vaginal yeast infection is, its prevalence, risk factors, symptoms, underlying causes, diagnosis, and treatment options.

What is a Vaginal Yeast Infection?

A vaginal yeast infection, also known as vulvovaginal candidiasis, occurs when there is an overgrowth of Candida fungus in the vaginal area. Candida is a naturally occurring microorganism in the body, but an overgrowth can result in an imbalance that leads to infection. The most common culprit is Candida albicans, although other species can also be involved.

What Do Vaginal Yeast Infections Look Like?

Vaginal yeast infections may not always have visible signs, but they often manifest with symptoms such as itching, redness, and swelling of the vaginal area. In some cases, a thick, white, odorless discharge resembling cottage cheese may be present. These symptoms can cause discomfort and irritation, affecting a woman's quality of life.

Prevalence and Risk Factors

Vaginal yeast infections are relatively common. It's estimated that about 75% of women will experience at least one yeast infection in their lifetime. Certain factors can increase the risk of developing these infections, including:

1. Antibiotic Use: Antibiotics can disrupt the balance of bacteria in the vaginal area, allowing yeast to overgrow.
2. Hormonal Changes: Fluctuations in hormone levels can create an environment conducive to yeast overgrowth. These fluctuations can be caused by pregnancy, the menstrual cycle, puberty, or menopause.
3. Diabetes: Poorly controlled diabetes can contribute to elevated sugar levels in vaginal secretions, providing a suitable environment for yeast to thrive.
4. Immune System Compromises: Conditions that weaken the immune system, such as HIV or corticosteroid use, can increase susceptibility to yeast infections.
5. Tight or Wet Clothing: Wearing non-breathable fabrics or tight-fitting clothing like swimsuits can create a warm, moist environment that promotes yeast growth.

Common Symptoms

The symptoms of a vaginal yeast infection can vary but often include:

1. Intense itching and discomfort in the vaginal area.
2. Redness and swelling of the vulva.
3. Abnormal, thick white discharge.
4. Burning sensation during urination or sexual intercourse.

Why Do Vaginal Yeast Infections Happen?

Vaginal yeast infections occur when there is an imbalance in the vaginal ecosystem. Normally, the vagina contains a mix of bacteria and yeast. However, when the balance is disrupted—often due to factors like those mentioned above—Candida yeast can multiply, leading to infection.


To diagnose a vaginal yeast infection, a healthcare provider will typically perform a physical examination and gather information about the patient's symptoms and medical history. In some cases, a sample of vaginal discharge may be collected for further analysis under a microscope or sent to a laboratory for culture.

Treatment Options

Treatment for vaginal yeast infections usually involves antifungal medication. These medications come in various forms, including creams, suppositories, and oral tablets. The choice of treatment depends on factors such as the severity of the infection, the patient's medical history, and their preference. It's important to complete the full course of treatment, even if symptoms improve before it's finished.


Vaginal yeast infections are a common concern for many women, but with proper understanding, prevention, and treatment, they can be effectively managed. Recognizing the symptoms, addressing risk factors, and seeking prompt medical attention when needed are essential steps in maintaining vaginal health. If you suspect you have a vaginal yeast infection or are experiencing discomfort, contact Complete Healthcare for Women and set up a consult with one of our providers. Remember, good vaginal health is a key component of overall well-being, and it's important to prioritize self-care and seek medical guidance when necessary.

Complete Healthcare for Women - Obstetrics and Gynecology


Richard Lorenzo, D.O.

Kortney Jones ARNP

Kortney Jones, ARNP Kortney Jones, ARNP Kortney Jones is board certified by the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners. She provides ob-gyn services including birth control, pregnancy and prenatal care, and infertility as well as gynecological services such as women’s health and wellness, abnormal uterine bleeding, endometriosis, pellet hormone therapy, and menopause.

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