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What Is a Vaginal Yeast Infection?

Learn what a vaginal yeast infection is and what common symptoms can help you identify it. You can also find out how you can treat a yeast infection and how you can prevent it from recurring.

Vaginal Yeast Infection

The common vaginal yeast infection (VYI) is a type of vaginosis — an inflammation of your vagina. Both fungus and bacteria naturally live in your vagina, but when the fungus Candida albicans increases, it can cause an infection. This fungus may increase when your immune system is weak or when good bacteria (called lactobacilli) can’t keep the fungus under control.

Factors That Can Make You More Prone to a Yeast Infection:

  • Illness
  • Use of antibiotics
  • Changes in hormone levels
  • Pregnancy
  • Use of oral contraceptive pills
  • Just before a woman's period
  • Diabetes
  • Hot, humid weather
  • Continuous use of panty liners
  • Tight, non-breathing clothing
  • Nylon underwear, pantyhose, wet bathing suits or damp workout wear
  • Heavily perfumed soaps, bubble baths or douching may cause vaginal irritation and upset the normal balance

Having a VYI is normal. About 75% of women will experience it at least once in their lives, while many women may suffer from recurrent VYIs.

If you've never had a VYI before and you think you may have one, visit your doctor. Once you recognize your symptoms and you know they’re not serious, we’ll help you to deal with the vaginal yeast infection independently at home. A VYI doesn’t take long to clear up once you’ve started treatment.

Just so you know, a VYI is not a sexually transmitted infection. It can be really uncomfortable, but in the majority of cases it’s simple to treat.

What Are the Symptoms of a Vaginal Yeast Infection?

Vaginal yeast infection (VYI) or vaginal candidiasis are the general and medical terms used to describe a common vaginal yeast infection. A VYI occurs when your immune system is weak or good bacteria in your vagina can’t keep the fungus (Candida albicans) under control. These types of conditions can create a suitable environment for Candida albicans to increase.

Everyone is different, so your symptoms may differ from a friend’s. They may also change each time you get an infection, so watch out for these common symptoms and whether your symptoms are mild, moderate or more complicated.

Most women experience symptoms such as:

  • An itchy intimate area
  • Soreness around the entrance to your vagina (vulva)
  • Slight swelling of your vaginal lips (labia)
  • Cottage cheese-like white discharge

These yeast infection symptoms aren't uncommon:

  • Pain during sex
  • Thick discharge
  • Red and swollen labia
  • Burning around your vulva
  • Sores in your vaginal area
  • Cracked skin around your vulva

How to Treat a Vaginal Yeast Infection

Treatment can be quite straightforward.

To treat the infection, you can use an internal product that contains the active ingredient clotrimazole or an oral treatment containing fluconazole. These products all treat your infection, but different people prefer different treatment options. External creams will help to soothe your external symptoms such as itchiness and burning. You can buy our products separately or you can purchase a combi pack for both the internal and external treatments.

See our full range of products.

If you need further help, a pharmacist or your doctor can help you decide the best option for you.

Information for First-time VYI Sufferers

Visit your doctor the first time you have a vaginal yeast infection. That way you’ll get the correct diagnosis and you’ll be able to recognise your symptoms in the future. If it is a yeast infection, you’ll be able to treat it independently at home.

How to Prevent Vaginal Yeast Infections

If you suffer from recurrent VYIs, there are a few changes you can make to improve your lifestyle, which can help prevent it from coming back.

Top tips for avoiding vaginal yeast infections:

  • Avoid using deodorants and heavily perfumed products in and around your intimate area.

  • Avoid stress and maintain a healthy lifestyle; doing so will keep your immune system strong.

  • Avoid high-sugar foods.

  • If you are taking antibiotics, consult your doctor before taking yeast infection treatments.

  • Change your tampons or pads frequently.

  • Ensure you wipe from front to back after going to the toilet.
  • Change your underwear after swimming and working out.
  • Avoid very hot baths.
  • Avoid tight underwear and clothes such as leggings and skinny jeans.
  • Avoid synthetic underwear; opt for cotton.

Sex and Yeast Infections

Remember: A VYI is not a sexually transmitted infection. However, if you are having sex with the same person (male or female), you can pass the yeast infection back and forth. That’s because men as well as women can get infected too. Talk to your partner to see if they have any symptoms of a yeast infection. Men should see a doctor for treatment of a yeast infection.

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When to talk to your doctor or pharmacist

Talk to a doctor or pharmacist before selecting an over the counter treatment if you:

  • Are at increased risk for sexually transmitted diseases (e.g. HIV-AIDS),
  • Have multiple sexual partners
  • Change partners often
  • Have diabetes
  • Have heart disease
  • Have frequent vaginal infections or if your yeast infection returns in less than 2 months
  • Have never had a yeast infection before
  • Are pregnant, trying to get pregnant or breastfeeding
  • Have any of the following symptoms, which may be signs of a serious condition: 
    • Abdominal, back or shoulder pain.
    • Fever or chills.
    • Nausea, diarrhoea or vomiting.
    • Vaginal haemorrhaging or foul-smelling vaginal discharge.

Stop using your treatment and ask a doctor if:

  • There is no improvement in three days or if symptoms have not disappeared within seven days
  • You have abdominal pain, fever or foul-smelling discharge during use of this medication
  • Skin rash or new irritation occurs

Can I Get Pregnant If I Have a Yeast Infection?

A vaginal yeast infection will not stop you from getting pregnant. However, some of the symptoms may make having sex uncomfortable.

If you’re pregnant, it’s completely natural for your hormones to change and affect your body — so your chance of getting a yeast infection does increase.

If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding and you have a yeast infection, do not take any treatments unless advised by your doctor.