What is it?

While not technically a sexually transmitted infections, a yeast infection is a common fungal infection caused by overgrowth of Candida, naturally occurring yeast. An estimated three in four women will have a yeast infection in their lifetime, and many of these women will have recurring infections. Women commonly misdiagnose themselves with yeast infections when they need to be treated for other conditions. Recurring yeast infections can sometimes be a sign of a sexually transmitted infection or some other condition that requires treatment, such as a bacterial infection. If you or your partner frequently experience some of the symptoms, it’s advisable to get tested to rule out sexually transmitted infections.

How do you get it?

Yeast are normally found in a woman’s vagina in small numbers, but sometimes they can multiply and change the normal balance of bacterial growth. When the fungi begin to grow in excess, they may develop into candidiasis.

In rare cases, a yeast infection can be spread through vaginal intercourse among partners who have unprotected sex, but the risk is low. Like any other vaginal infection, they should be treated immediately, and if you are sexually active and your partner is having symptoms, he or she should also seek treatment. In any case, sex should only resume once symptoms disappear.

What are the risk factors for getting a yeast infection?

  • Pregnancy
  • Birth control pills
  • Menstruation
  • Recent or current use of antibiotics and certain other prescription medications
  • Unprotected sexual activity
  • Mismanaged diabetes
  • A weakened immune system

What are the symptoms of a yeast infection?

Women may experience:

  • Vaginal itching
  • Burning while urinating
  • Pain during intercourse
  • Swollen or red vulva
  • Thick, white discharge resembling cottage cheese

Men with an infection may develop balanitis, an inflammation of the head of the penis, and may experience:

  • Painful swelling on the tip of the penis
  • Itching
  • Red dots on the tip of the penis
  • Dry peeling skin
  • Burning during urination

How is it treated?

Most yeast infections can be treated with over-the-counter medications, but it’s recommended you consult a health care professional before trying anything, especially if you are pregnant. Talk to a health-care provider about all the prescription and non-prescription drugs you are taking before you start any treatment. Once the yeast infection is confirmed, it is usually easily treated by over-the-counter medications. These medications can be in the form of tablets or suppositories that are inserted into the vagina, or ointments and creams that can be applied directly to the infected area for one to seven days.

Where can I get help?

Visit one of our Sexual Health Clinics or to speak confidentially with a Public Health Nurse call 519-271-7600 or toll-free at 1-877-271-7348 extension 779.