Yeast are tiny organisms that usually live in small numbers on the skin and inside the vagina. The acidic environment of the vagina helps keep yeast from growing. If the vagina becomes less acidic, too many yeast can grow and cause a vaginal infection. The acidic balance of the vagina can be changed by your period (menstruation), pregnancy, injury, increased heat and moisture, allergic reactions, diabetes, hormonal fluxes, some antibiotics, birth control pills and steroids. Yeast infections are not a serious illness but can be very uncomfortable.
Symptoms include the following: Itching and burning in the vagina and around the vulva (the skin that surrounds your vagina) this itching is not always present, but can get really bad, a white vaginal discharge that may look like cottage cheese but it can range from thick and not clumpy to faintly yellow to thin and clear, pain during sexual intercourse, swelling of the vulva and it smells exactly like yeast. Yeast infections are very common, it has been estimated that 3/4 of women will have one at some time in their lives. Half of all women have more than one infection in their lives.
You can prevent another yeast infection by not wearing tight-fitting or synthetic-fiber clothes, wear cotton panties. Don’t wear pantyhose or leotards every day. Wipe from front to back after using the toilet. Change out of wet swimsuits or other damp clothes as soon as you can. Avoid using colored or perfumed toilet paper.
Other sources of information for these topics.
vaginal yeast infection
A series of pages covering the symptoms, causes, and treatments of vaginal yeast infections, including links to other yeast infection information.
Vaginal Yeast Infections -- familydoctor.org
Information on vaginal yeast infections from the American Academy of Family Physicians.
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