Please note: This information was current at the time of publication but now may be out of date. This handout provides a general overview and may not apply to everyone. For regularly updated information on a variety of health topics, please visit familydoctor.org, the AAFP patient education website.

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Am Fam Physician. 2000;61(11):3317

See related article on vulvovaginal candidiasis.

How do I know if I have a yeast infection?

If you have a yeast infection, you may have a thick, white discharge from your vagina. You may also have itching or discomfort. If you have a discharge, it usually doesn't smell bad. You may have a burning feeling around the outside of your vagina when you go to the bathroom or have sex.

If I think that I have a yeast infection, do I need to see my doctor?

You need to see your doctor:

  • If you haven't seen your doctor before because of a yeast infection.

  • If medicine you have been given for previous yeast infections is not working.

  • If your symptoms are different than the ones you had with previous yeast infections.

Why do my yeast infections keep coming back?

Some people are more likely to get yeast infections—for no particular reason. Your doctor may want to check to see if you have a medical problem that is affecting your immune system. However, most people who keep getting yeast infections are healthy.

Certain things may increase your chance of getting another yeast infection:

  • Having your period

  • Taking antibiotics

  • Taking birth control pills

  • Having sex often

Your chance of getting another yeast infection may also be greater if you wear synthetic underwear or tight pants that increase moisture in your genital area.

How do I get rid of these yeast infections?

Your doctor may recommend a cream or tablets that you put in your vagina or tablets that you take by mouth. To keep the yeast infection from coming back, you might need to take medicine each month when you have your period. You might even have to take medicine every day.

Does my sexual partner need to be treated?

No. Doctors have found no benefit to treating the sexual partners of women with yeast infections.

Can eating yogurt help prevent yeast infections?

In one small study, women who ate 8 ounces a day of yogurt containing a live bacteria (called Lactobacillus acidophilus) had fewer yeast infections. However, another study did not show any benefit from eating yogurt. If you like yogurt, it will not hurt you, and it may help.

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