Yeast Infections

Yeast infections are caused by a fungus called Candida albicans. They are a common occurrence in women, with an estimated 75 percent of all women having at least one infection in their lifetime. Symptoms include a cottage cheese-like discharge and itching and irritation of the vagina and vulva. Antifungal drugs are usually used to treat this type of infection.

What Are Yeast Infections?

Yeast infections are a common cause of irritation of the vagina and vulva (the area around the opening to the vagina). About 75 percent of women will have a vaginal yeast infection at some point in their lives.
A kind of fungus called Candida causes vaginal yeast infections. It is normal to have some yeast in your vagina. Usually, this yeast is in balance with other organisms. But sometimes the balance is lost, and yeast overgrowth occurs. Hormonal changes can affect the acidity of the vagina and lead to yeast overgrowth. Another common cause of yeast infections is taking antibiotics.

What are the Symptoms?

The symptoms of vaginal yeast infections in women can range from mild to very uncomfortable. Symptoms may include:
  • Itching, burning, and irritation of the vagina
  • Itching, redness, and irritation of the vulva
  • Painful urination and/or intercourse
  • Abnormal vaginal discharge.
The vaginal discharge is usually described as looking like cottage cheese. However, it may vary in amount and appearance. The discharge does not have a bad odor.
Symptoms of yeast infections can be similar to symptoms of other kinds of vaginal infections.
(Click Yeast Infection Symptoms for more information.)
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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