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healthy sexuality
Types of Sexually Transmitted Infections ( STIs)

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Yeast Infections

This webpage is for information purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

Candida albicans - a microscopic yeast - lives in and on our bodies. Sometimes this yeast multiplies to the point that it causes an infection, particularly in dark, warm and moist areas.

A yeast infection (also called a monilia, candida, or fungus infection) is caused by an overgrowth of candida albicans. Candida can be passed from an infected person to his or her partner through unprotected vaginal intercourse.

Symptoms

An overgrowth of candida albicans might not cause any symptoms.

A female with a yeast infection might experience:

  • Mild to severe vaginal itching and burning.
  • White, thick, dry, clumpy vaginal discharge.
  • Red, sore and sometimes swollen labia (vaginal lips).
  • Pain and/or burning when urinating and with sexual intercourse.

Males may experience:

  • Irritation, redness or dry, flakey skin at tip of the penis or under the foreskin.
  • Pain and/or burning when urinating.
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Diagnosis & Treatment

Diagnosing a Yeast Infection

Females

Your doctor will perform a pelvic exam to look for swelling and abnormal discharge then take a swab sample from your vagina. The sample will be sent to a lab, where a test will show if yeast is causing the problem.

Males

Your doctor will examine your penis for redness or irritation.

Medical Treatment

You can buy anti-fungal creams and suppositories (ovules) at most drug stores without a prescription. These come in 1-, 3- or 7-day doses. Males and females can use the same creams.

Don’t have intercourse during treatment and the week after your treatment to allow your vagina or penis to heal. Also be aware that many anti-fungal creams reduce the effectiveness of latex condoms and diaphragms during treatment and for 3 days afterwards.

If you still have symptoms, return to your family doctor for more testing and/or treatment.

Non-Medicinal Treatment

You can treat or prevent yeast infections with these home remedies:

Lactobacillus Acidophilus

Lactobacillus Acidophilus can help restore the healthy bacteria balance in the vagina. You can buy it at health food stores.

Swallow a capsule a day, or open a capsule and mix the powder with a small amount of water to form a paste. Insert the paste into your vagina with your finger or an applicator.

Eat Plain Yogurt

Eat plain unsweetened yogurt containing lactobacillus or insert it into your vagina at bedtime with an applicator.

Symptom Relief

Sitz Baths

Add a few drops of tea tree oil and 1 cup of vinegar (or baking soda) in a shallow sitz bath. (A sitz bath is a warm-water bath taken in the sitting position that covers only the hips and buttocks.) A sitz bath can help ease the symptoms of a yeast infection asuch as itching, burning and swelling, but will not cure a yeast infection.

Cold Compresses

Place a cold compress or ice pack (such as a bag of frozen peas or a frozen juice can wrapped in a tea towel) on your vulva to relieve burning and itching.

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Prevention

You can prevent yeast infections by:

  • Wearing cotton underwear. (Avoid nylon underwear, pantyhose and tight jeans: they tend to keep the vaginal area moist.)
  • Keeping your genital area clean and dry.
  • Change out of a wet bathing suit as soon as possible.
  • Washing with plain water or a mild soap.
  • Wiping from front to back after a bowel movement.
  • Avoiding bubble baths, oils, and commercial hygiene sprays.
  • Avoiding douching and deodorant tampons or pads. (Douching can irritate the vaginal lining, disturb the natural balance and increase the risk of infection.)
  • Eating a healthy balanced diet and avoid foods that are high in sugar.
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More Yeast Infection Facts

  • Yeast likes estrogen.Yeast infections are more common during the second half of the menstrual cycle, while taking birth control pills or during pregnancy.
  • Antibiotics can cause yeast infections. Antibiotics can reduce the “friendly bacteria” that keep candida albicans in check, allowing yeast to overgrow.
  • You’re more likely to develop a yeast infection if you’re overweight or diabetic.
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Revised: Wednesday April 22 2009

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