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What Is a Yeast Infection? Signs, Treatment and Frequently Asked Questions

Most women will get a yeast infection at some point of their lifetime. Learn how to recognize and treat this uncomfortable and sometimes painful condition.

Vaginal thrush is an infection caused by yeast fungi of the genus Candida. According to statistics, 75% of women face it at least once in a lifetime.

Normally, the fungi are present in the body without any clinical manifestations. Changes in the vaginal pH can promote fungal growth and cause disease symptoms.

Thrush is not an STD. It can be triggered by low immune function, antibiotic intake, pregnancy, diabetes, etc.

Yeast infection (candidiasis) can occur in girls and women regardless of their age and the presence of hymen.

The infection, which can manifest itself as white thick clumpy discharge and itching, does not belong to sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and, in many cases, has nothing to do with sexual activity.

Fungi of the genus Candida are part of the vaginal microbial flora. When they are few (their growth is restrained by the body’s defenses), there is no harm.

When the body is weakened, there is a risk of a yeast infection. Candidiasis can be triggered by frequent colds, stress, inadequate nutrition, poor hygiene, taking antibiotics, etc.

Yeast infection responds well to special antifungal medications.

Periods do not cause a yeast infection, but can trigger it.

When you are on your period, the pH balance of your vagina changes. The vaginal environment becomes alkaline, which promotes the growth of Candida.

In addition, menstruation alters the hormonal balance and local immunity is weakened, which can also contribute to the development of a yeast infection.

To prevent candidiasis during menstruation, you should:

  • enrich your diet with fruits, vegetables, and fermented milk products
  • practice proper hygiene (replacing pads every 4 hours, and changing your panties at least once a day)
  • avoid wearing thongs
  • avoid using tampons, if you have symptoms of a yeast infection (clumpy discharge, itching, and burning)

Yeast infection may seem harmless at first.

However, if you do not pay attention to the symptoms but ignore treatment, the infection can become chronic under certain conditions (low immunity, diabetes, etc.)

If you have had candidiasis four or more times during a year, this suggests a recurrent or a chronic yeast infection. In this case, it is much more difficult to cure.

It is necessary to undergo further examination; for example, take a smear test to identify a specific pathogen (determine the type of fungus).

The results of the tests will help the doctor prescribe the correct treatment and halt the progression of the infection

Yeast infection may be one of the side effects of antibiotic therapy.

Antibiotics kill not only pathogenic bacteria, but also beneficial microorganisms. This creates favorable conditions for the growth of the fungi that cause candidiasis or yeast infections.

To prevent a yeast infection during or after antibacterial therapy, many doctors recommend taking probiotics.

They are contained in food (yogurt, cottage cheese, kefir, sour cream), as well as in specifically designed medications and biologically active additives.

Probiotics help balance the flora in the body, including in the vagina, and prevent pathogenic microflora from reproducing.

They also positively affect digestion, produce vitamins (vitamin K, folic acid, etc.), normalize cholesterol, and stimulate the immune system.

Medications containing probiotics can be bought in a pharmacy, but you should consult a doctor before taking them. They will determine the adequate regimen and duration of treatment for you.

If you have a yeast infection, it is better to abstain from sex.

Although candidiasis does not belong to the group of sexually transmitted diseases, there is a risk of your partner with weak immunity getting yeast infection from sex if it’s unprotected.

In addition, having sex can cause your inflamed mucosa to get microtraumas, which may aggravate the condition.

There can be discomfort because a yeast infection is usually accompanied by itching and soreness.

If you were not experiencing those symptoms before sexual intercourse, you are likely to afterwards.


Candidiasis is not always accompanied by severe symptoms. In 20% of cases, there is no characteristic clumpy discharge and itching. It may be asymptomatic.

A smear test can be used to detect the condition. The result will show the excess concentration of fungi.

Such an infection can sometimes have slight symptoms (for example, irritation of the vulva).

The asymptomatic course of the infection lowers your immunity and poses danger in the event of conception. There is a threat of pregnancy complications and transmission of the infection to the child.

Regular examinations by a gynecologist and taking tests will help identify the problem.

Yeast infection is a common medical condition. According to statistics, 75% of women face it at least once in their lifetime.

The main rule is to avoid self-diagnosing and self-medicating. In the event of any ailments or suspicions, you should consult your doctor.

To prevent a yeast infection, you should:

  • take tests regularly and, if necessary, treat sexually transmitted diseases because candidiasis is a frequent companion of STDs
  • avoid sexual contact with people who might possibly be infected
  • monitor blood glucose levels, especially if you have a risk of developing diabetes
  • practice proper personal hygiene, wear loose clothing made from natural fabrics (Synthetic material creates a moist environment, ideal for fungi growth.)
  • avoid using intimate deodorants, perfumed soaps, scented pads, and tampons. Do not resort to douching unless it is prescribed by a doctor.

Balanced nutrition is also crucial to prevent infection. You should add foods rich in fiber and protein into your diet, as well as probiotics (fermented milk products).

Eating the “right” food will not cure a yeast infection, but a healthy diet will help you get rid of the infection faster and make its recurrence less likely.

It is recommended that you cut down on products containing:

  • a large amount of sugar, such as sweets, candies, carbonated drinks, some fruits and vegetables (Glucose is the breeding ground for fungi.)
  • yeast
  • preservatives and colorants (marinades, smoked foods, sauces)

To fight yeast infections, you should include probiotics (contained in yogurt, sour cream, and kefir) in your diet. Products with antibacterial and antifungal properties (for example, garlic and some spices such as cloves, turmeric, and cinnamon) will be helpful, too.

Vaginal thrush manifests itself in itching, burning, vulva and vagina redness, abnormal (white and curdy) discharge, and pain during urination and sex.

In addition to discomfort, the symptoms can cause insecurity and anxiety.

It is important to consult a doctor when experiencing these symptoms. The doctor will prescribe treatment without any additional tests (Candidiasis symptoms are quite evident) or do a smear test for further examination.

Antifungal drugs are generally available over the counter, but recovery depends on the adequate dosage, drug form, and treatment duration prescribed by the doctor.

The doctor can prescribe pills that have a systemic effect on the body. Suppositories and creams introduced into the vagina (mainly at bedtime) produce a localized effect.

Taking a single dose of an antifungal medicine is sometimes enough to treat the infection, but a more serious therapy may also be required. If you are experiencing thrush symptoms, be sure to consult a doctor.

There is a wide range of creams, suppositories, vaginal pills, and oral medications available for yeast infections.

Many of them are available over the counter. However, despite the availability, some women can’t get rid of a yeast infection permanently.

It may become chronic and recur several times a year.

Here are the most common chronic yeast infection causes:

  • The medication used is aimed at eliminating itching and burning but doesn’t have an antifungal effect. When buying medications, you should read the label carefully.
  • The antifungal agent is not strong enough or the fungus species may be resistant to the drug being taken.
  • The dosage is not sufficient.
  • The infection is secondary to another serious disease. For example, the vaginal flora has not recovered after antibiotic therapy.

Therefore, the treatment should be carefully selected by a doctor. This will reduce the risk of a chronic infection (defined as four or more episodes per year).

Will your period flush out a yeast infection?

A vaginal yeast infection may clear up on its own without any treatment when your menses starts. 

Menstrual blood increases the pH of your vagina. This may reduce the number of yeast cells as they can’t survive and proliferate in the pH that is present during menses. 

Does yeast infection smell bad? 

Vaginal yeast infections generally cause an odor-free discharge from the vagina that is thick, white and is cottage cheese in appearance. Bacterial vaginosis is among the most common infections of the vagina that produces a vaginal odor. Some other common causes of bad smell from vagina are Trichomoniasis, poor hygiene practices and a forgotten or retained tampon left in the vagina for several days. 

How long does it take for a yeast infection to go away?

Treating a yeast infection may relieve your symptoms and signs within a few days (three to 7 days). If your symptoms are severe, then they may require up to two weeks clearing away.

How long do yeast infections last?

The length of vaginal yeast infections may depend on two factors; the severity of the infection and what treatment you have received. Mild infections may get better in a few days (3 to 7 days). But moderate to severe cases of infections may need up to two weeks getting better. 

Over-the-counter treatments are often successful in treating mild yeast infections but these remedies aren’t as potent as prescription medicines. Yeast infections, which aren’t treated properly, have an increased risk of recurrence. Furthermore, their severity also increases. 

If your yeast infection won’t go away after treatment or if your symptoms recur within two months of treatment, then visit your physician again. 

Why do yeast infections itch more at night?

Itching at the vulva due to yeast infection may be irritating and annoying, particularly at night. While the symptom of vulvovaginal itching may occur at any time of the day, it may seem to be more noticeable at night as there are lesser distractions. This may make you more aware of the symptom of itching. Lying still at night while you are sleeping is often the cause of this increased awareness of your bodily sensations. 

How long should you wait for sex after yeast infection treatment?

How long to wait for sex after yeast infection treatment? You should avoid having sex while suffering from a yeast infection as it may prolong your infection and allow the symptoms to return. There are also chances of passing the infection to your partner. Having sexual intercourse while getting treatment for vaginal candidiasis, may slow down your healing process. Furthermore, if your partner also develops a candida infection, then the infection may travel back and forth. Hence, you should avoid having sex until all the signs and symptoms of a yeast infection clear up. 

A candida infection generally clears up quickly once you start the treatment. You may require up to 7 days to clear the infection after starting treatment with an over-the-counter medicine. You may have sex after all your symptoms of a yeast infection have cleared with treatment. 

Does yeast infection itch?

Vaginal yeast infection causes symptoms of intense irritation and itching in the vulva and vagina. Some of the other signs and symptoms of vaginal yeast infections include a burning sensation particularly while urinating or during intercourse, swelling and redness of the vulva, vaginal rash, pain and soreness in the vagina, and a thick, odorless, white vaginal discharge that has a cottage cheese-like appearance. 

Can tampons cause yeast Infections?

Candida breeds or proliferates in a high-moisture environment, and tampons and pads may keep excess moisture in them, allowing the yeast to grow, resulting in an infection. Hence, you should change tampons and pads often, at least every four hours, particularly when the weather is hot.

Yeast infections before period

The hormonal changes that occur right before your periods may make you more prone to develop a yeast infection before period. Each month before periods, there is a drop in your estrogen levels. This reduction in the estrogen may have an effect on the internal environment of your vagina giving the yeast more chance to proliferate and cause an infection. 

Recurring yeast infections before period

Some women may get recurring yeast infections before period. As already stated, this may happen due to the hormonal changes (reduced estrogen levels) that occur before your menses and the changes they cause to the internal vaginal environment. Apart from the hormonal changes before periods, there are several other factors that may cause a yeast infection. These include taking antibiotics, pregnancy, a weakened immune system, uncontrolled diabetes, poor dietary habits such as eating excessive sugary foods, lack of sleep, and stress. Most of the yeast infections are caused by the yeast Candida albicans and are easily treatable. 

But if you’re getting recurrent infections or your yeast infection won’t go away after treatment, then your infection may be caused by a different species of Candida. You may get a lab test to identify the type of Candida causing your infection.

Yeast infection during period

It feels extremely uncomfortable to have a yeast infection during period as the symptoms of itching; soreness and vaginal discharge are coupled with blood and abdominal cramps. Furthermore, using pads, menstrual cups and tampons to manage menses may become very messy if you have yeast infection and period at the same time. You may take a Diflucan (fluconazole) to treat your infection. It is a prescription drug and is the most convenient and least messy option for treating a yeast infection during period. 

You may use pads or menstrual cups or tampons to contain menstrual blood if you’re having a yeast infection while on period. But take care to change them often. Avoid douching as it removes the normal bacteria from the vagina, disturbing its pH. Furthermore, other vaginal infections such as trichomoniasis and bacterial vaginosis also resemble a yeast infection as they have quite similar symptoms. Hence, if you experience vaginal symptoms, it’s better to visit a physician, instead of self-diagnosing and treating them. This holds true whether you are having menses or not.





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