Symptoms of Yeast Infections

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Although yeast infections are associated with sex, they are not sexually transmitted infections (STIs). That said, it may be possible for yeast infections to be transmitted during oral sex and other sexual activity. The data isn't clear, but it's considered far more likely for yeast infections to be caused by health concerns and behaviors other than sex.

As many as three-quarters of people will be diagnosed with a yeast infection at least once in their lives.

Yeast infections are skin infections that are caused by one or more species of yeast. Most often, they are caused by various Candida species, specifically Candida albicans.

However, there are more than 20 species of Candida that can cause yeast infections (also known as candidiasis). Oral candidiasis is generally known as thrush. It is vaginal candidiasis that is commonly referred to as a yeast infection.

vaginal yeast infection symptoms
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Frequent Symptoms

Vaginal yeast infections are generally relatively mild infections. The symptoms are very recognizable and include:

  • Itching or soreness of the vagina
  • Pain during sexual intercourse
  • Pain or burning when urinating
  • Changes in vaginal discharge

With a more severe infection, there may be redness and cracking of the skin. This can be painful. However, for most people, itching is the main symptom of a vaginal yeast infection. 

Oral yeast infections, or thrush, have slightly different symptoms. They usually do not cause itching. Instead, you may notice:

  • White patches in your mouth, on your tongue, or in your throat
  • Redness and soreness
  • Difficulty tasting things
  • A feeling like your mouth is full of cotton
  • Pain when eating or swallowing
  • Cracking and irritation around the corners of the mouth


Recurrent Infections

The most common complication of a yeast infection is another yeast infection. Research estimates that as many as a quarter of people who have one yeast infection will go on to have another within one year.

Recurrent yeast infections can be disruptive to a person's well-being, affecting how they feel about themselves and their bodies. They can also cause difficulties in a relationship if the yeast infections disrupt normal sexual activity.

Pregnancy Complications

For most people, yeast infections are an unpleasant but minor health concern. However, there is some evidence that vaginal yeast infections may sometimes cause problems with a pregnancy.

Pregnant people with yeast infections may be more likely to experience preterm labor, preterm rupture of membranes, or other problems. However, the research is not conclusive. Therefore, due to safety concerns about certain common yeast infection treatments during pregnancy, doctors may choose to just treat candidiasis symptoms rather than worry about eliminating a yeast infection.

When to See a Doctor

From an overall health perspective, yeast infections aren't that big of a deal. However, these infections can be very unpleasant. Therefore, most people will want to treat a yeast infection quickly in order to get rid of the symptoms.

If you suspect a yeast infection for the first time, see a doctor for a diagnosis. That's true even though treatment is available over the counter. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to distinguish between a yeast infection and an STI just by the symptoms. You want to make certain you're treating the right thing.

Even if you've had a number of yeast infections, it's still good to go to a doctor to be certain of what is causing your symptoms. Many times, an over-the-counter yeast infection treatment isn't successful because you don't have a yeast infection. Resistance to treatment is also a possibility, but it's less common than for bacterial diseases.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What are the treatment options for a yeast infection?

    Treatment options for yeast infections include over-the-counter antifungal creams, prescription medications, and some home remedies, including gargling with diluted hydrogen peroxide for oral thrush.

  • How can you prevent recurrent yeast infections?

    The best ways to prevent recurrent yeast infections are to avoid tight-fitting underwear and clothing, wear cotton underwear, do not douche, avoid long periods in hot tubs or bathtubs, change out of wet bathing suits and sweaty clothing immediately, and do not overuse antibiotics.

9 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. [Internet]. Cologne, Germany: Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG). Vaginal yeast infection (thrush): overview.

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  4. Vila T, Sultan AS, Montelongo-Jauregui D, Jabra-Rizk MA. Oral candidiasis: A disease of opportunity. J Fungi (Basel). 2020;6(1). doi:10.3390/jof6010015

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  7. Rajalakshmi R, Kalaivani S. Prevalence of asymptomatic infections in sexually transmitted diseases attendees diagnosed with bacterial vaginosis, vaginal candidiasis, and trichomoniasisIndian J Sex Transm Dis AIDS. 2016;37(2):139–142. doi:10.4103/0253-7184.192121

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Additional Reading

By Elizabeth Boskey, PhD
Elizabeth Boskey, PhD, MPH, CHES, is a social worker, adjunct lecturer, and expert writer in the field of sexually transmitted diseases.