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A vaginal yeast infection is one of the most common causes of genital irritation. Several factors can lead to an increased risk for this condition, such as being pregnant, having uncontrolled diabetes, and using antibiotics or birth control pills. Symptoms associated with a yeast infection in women include itching, burning, and irritation of the vagina. Antifungal medications are generally used to treat the infection.
Vaginal yeast infection, or vulvovaginal candidiasis, is a common cause of vaginal irritation. This common fungal infection occurs when there is an imbalance of the fungus called Candida albicans. Although this infection is not considered an STD (sexually transmitted disease), 12 percent to 15 percent of men develop symptoms after sexual contact with an infected partner.
Yeasts are always present in the vagina in small numbers, and symptoms only appear with overgrowth. Health experts estimate that approximately 75 percent of all women will have at least one yeast infection with apparent symptoms during their lifetime.
Several factors are associated with an increased risk of yeast infection in women, including:
Other factors that may increase the incidence of yeast infection include:
- Using perfumed feminine hygiene sprays
- Using topical antibiotics and steroid medicines.
Wearing tight, poorly ventilated clothing and underwear also can contribute to yeast infections.
Women with recurring infections should work with their healthcare providers to discover possible underlying causes of their chronic yeast infections. Health experts do not know whether yeast can be transmitted sexually. Because almost all women have the fungus in their vaginas, it has been difficult for researchers to study this aspect of the infection.