Yeast infection (vaginal)

A vaginal yeast infection is a type of vaginitis — inflammation of the vagina — characterized by vaginal irritation, intense itchiness and vaginal discharge. A vaginal yeast infection affects your vagina and the tissues at the opening to your vagina (vulva).

Vaginal yeast infection — also called vaginal candidiasis — is very common. As many as 3 out of 4 women experience a yeast infection at some point in their lifetimes. Many women experience two or more yeast infections.

A vaginal yeast infection isn't considered a sexually transmitted infection, although the fungus that causes the condition can be spread through oral-genital contact. Simple treatment is usually effective, unless you have recurrent yeast infections — four or more in a single year. In that case, you may need a longer course of therapy and a maintenance plan.

Symptoms Causes Risk factors Prevention

Yeast infection symptoms can range from mild to moderate and include:

  • Itching and irritation in the vagina and at the entrance to the vagina (vulva)
  • A burning sensation, especially during intercourse or while urinating
  • Redness and swelling of the vulva
  • Vaginal pain and soreness
  • Thick, white, odor-free vaginal discharge with a cottage cheese appearance

Complicated yeast infection

You might have a complicated yeast infection if:

  • You have severe signs and symptoms, such as extensive redness, swelling and itching that leads to the development of tears or cracks (fissures) or sores
  • You have recurrent yeast infections — four or more in a single year
  • Your infection is caused by a type of candida other than Candida albicans
  • You're pregnant
  • You have uncontrolled diabetes
  • You have lowered immunity due to use of certain medications or a condition such as HIV infection

When to see a doctor

Make an appointment with your doctor if:

  • This is the first time you've experienced yeast infection symptoms
  • You're not sure whether you have a yeast infection
  • Your symptoms don't go away after self-treating with over-the-counter antifungal vaginal creams or suppositories
  • You develop other symptoms

© 1998-2015 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER). All rights reserved. Terms of use