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Yeast Infections

Nowadays, we feel comfortable talking in public about everything from HIV and AIDS to war and political scandals. But when was the last time you heard someone talking about yeast infections?! Vaginal yeast infections may be infrequently discussed, but they are very common-they will affect 3 out of 4 women in their lifetimes, and many more than once.

A yeast infection is otherwise known as candida or vulvovaginal candidiasis. It is not a sexually transmitted infection, although it may be passed from partner to partner. Most often, yeast infections are simply caused by an overgrowth of the normal yeast candida albicans that lives in the healthy vagina. Factors that can cause yeast infections include hormonal changes (including pregnancy), certain medications (especially antibiotics), other illnesses (such as diabetes), or certain hygiene habits. The symptoms are classic: they include vaginal itching, soreness, burning or irritation along with a thick, lumpy white discharge often described as "cottage cheesy".

Many women are nervous as well as uncomfortable the first time they have a yeast infection; if so, you should consult your doctor for a proper diagnosis. If you have had the symptoms once before and have them again, you are probably pretty confident with the diagnosis and can safely treat yourself with one of the many over-the-counter medications available. If the symptoms are different, if the discharge is discolored or smells foul, or if the over-the-counter treatment does not work as directed, consult your physician to confirm that this is a yeast infection and not another problem.

Created: 3/30/2004  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.

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