Yeast Infections

Causes of Yeast Infections

Conditions that may make yeast infections more likely include:
  • Pregnancy and other causes of hormonal changes
  • Use of oral contraceptives (birth control pills)
  • Diabetes that isn't well controlled (high blood sugar can help yeast to multiply)
  • A weakened immune system
  • Use of steroid drugs
  • Use of antibiotics (antibiotic drugs kill bacteria in the body, including within the vagina, allowing yeast to multiply and cause an infection).
Yeast infections seem to be only rarely passed from one person to another through sexual contact. A male partner of a woman with a yeast infection usually will have no symptoms, but some men may get an itchy rash on the penis.
(Click Cause of Yeast Infection for more information.)

Making a Diagnosis

Your healthcare provider will examine you and use a swab to take a sample from the affected area. A lab test of the sample will show if yeast is the cause of your symptoms.

Treatment Options

Yeast infections are treated with antifungal drugs, such as clotrimazole or miconazole. There are different forms of these medications, including pills, skin ointments, and creams and tablets used in the vagina.
Antifungal drugs usually work well to treat a vaginal yeast infection. But infections that do not respond to treatment are becoming more common. Taking antifungal drugs when they are not needed can help make yeast resistant to the drugs. For this reason, you should not use antifungal drugs unless you are absolutely sure that you have a yeast infection.
If you are sure that you have a yeast infection, you can buy over-the-counter products to treat it. Be sure to follow the directions for using the product. If you are not sure whether you have a yeast infection or another type of infection or problem, you should see your healthcare provider. You should also see your healthcare provider if you have recurring yeast infections.
(Click Yeast Infection Treatment for more information.)
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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