What is a Yeast Infection?

Yeast infections are an overgrowth of yeast (candida) in the body. Yeast in the vagina is very common but yeast can found in men as well. Many people with vaginas will experience at least one yeast infection in their lifetime. Yeast is not considered to be a sexually transmitted infection.

What causes a yeast infection?

Very simply, yeast is an overgrowth of what is normally present in the body.

  • Often there is no clear reason for a yeast infection.
  • Yeast is not considered “sexually transmitted” because it is not usually transmitted during sex but sex can change the balance of yeast in the vagina.
  • You can get a yeast infection without ever being sexually active.
  • Taking antibiotics and birth control pills, or being pregnant may cause an overgrowth of yeast.
  • People who live with diabetes or are immune compromised may experience more yeast infections.
  • Rarely, if a yeast infection doesn’t clear up with treatment, your sexual partner may need to be treated to stop the infection from being passed back and forth.

How do I prevent a yeast infection?

  • Wear cotton underwear and loose clothing
  • Avoid douching (rinsing the vagina with liquid to clean it – this can be harmful!)
  • Practise good hygiene; daily showers using “gentle” soap products or no soap in the genitals
  • Avoid scented products such as toilet paper, tampons or pads.

What are the symptoms of a yeast infection?

some people test positive for a yeast infection but have no symptoms

In the vagina, there may be:

  • white thick discharge (it can be lumpy in texture)
  • feelings of itchiness or dryness
  • there may be redness or tiny cracks in the vaginal folds

On the penis, there may be:

  • white discharge on the head of the penis
  • swelling and a feeling of tightness of the foreskin

How do I test for a yeast infection?

  • a swab can be taken from the vagina and sent to the lab to be tested for yeast overgrowth
  • sometimes it can be diagnosed based on an exam and symptoms

Yeast infection treatment

Treatment is not necessary for those with no symptoms, even with a positive lab test, as the overgrowth often corrects itself.

  • medication can be purchased at sexual health clinics or over the counter at any drug store; ask the pharmacist if you need help
  • several different brands of “anti-yeast” medication available; most involve inserting cream or tablets into the vagina and creams that can be used on the skin for both males and females.
  • for chronic or reccurring yeast infections, prescription medication is available

What are the risks of yeast infections?

  • Usually yeast is easily treated and does not lead to serious complications
  • Occasionally it can reoccur or become chronic requiring more in-depth treatment