Understanding Vaginal Yeast Infections


Whether this is your first or your fourth yeast infection, understanding the basic facts behind yeast infections can be an important part of helping you feel better.

Many people have a tendency to "fear the unknown." When you don't really understand what's happening, things and situations can be a lot more frightening than they need to be. Well, the same is true for yeast infections. So let's clear up some of the mystery — and misconceptions — behind these very common infections that women face and remove some of the worry and unnecessary embarrassment that often go along with them.

Are yeast infections "normal"?

It's understandable that you might feel alone when you have a yeast infection. After all, it's not exactly a subject we talk about openly. This may be due to the fact that yeast infections carry an unfair social stigma — probably because of the misconception that they have something to do with poor hygiene.

In fact, you might be surprised to learn just how common yeast infections actually are. The truth is:

  • 3 out of 4 women will have a yeast infection in their lifetime.
  • Almost half of all women will have 2 or more.

So you can see, getting a yeast infection could actually be considered more "normal" than never getting one.

What is a vaginal yeast infection?

A “yeast infection” may occur any time there is an overgrowth of yeast organisms in the vagina. The vagina normally has bacteria and yeast organisms present. Under some conditions, the number of yeast organisms rises, irritating the tissue of the vagina and vaginal opening.

Did you know?

A vaginal yeast infection is usually not considered a sexually transmitted infection. . This is because even women who aren't sexually active can also get them since they're caused by a fungus that's naturally present in the vagina. However, yeast infections can be transmitted sexually, especially from oral-genital sexual contact, so it's best to avoid sexual contact when you have a yeast infection.

What causes yeast infections?
It's really no wonder that yeast infections are so common. Anything that disrupts the normal acidic balance of the vagina can cause a yeast infection — and often these are things women deal with on a day-to-day basis.

Conditions that make this more likely to occur:

  • illness
  • use of antibiotics
  • changes in hormone levels
  • pregnancy
  • use of oral contraceptive pills
  • just before a woman's period
  • diabetes
  • hot humid weather
  • continuous use of panty liners
  • tight, non-breathing clothing
  • nylon underwear, pantyhose, wet bathing suits or damp workout wear
  • perfumed soaps, bubble baths or douching may cause vaginal irritation and upset the normal balance

Refrain from vaginal intercourse when you have a yeast infection to avoid infecting your partner and to minimize additional discomfort. If your partner has any genital itching, redness or discomfort, they should talk to their doctor and mention that you are treating a yeast infection.