Yeast Infections

Also known as vaginal candidiasis or vulvovaginal candidiasis

A vaginal yeast infection is a common condition caused by an overgrowth of naturally occurring fungi called Candida, especially Candida albicans. As many as 72% of women have had at least one vaginal yeast infection during their lifetime. 

Symptoms of a vaginal yeast infection can include vaginal itching, redness or soreness, and a clumpy white discharge. It is important to have a yeast infection diagnosed by a physician because several other conditions, such as bacterial vaginosis, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and vulvitis, can cause similar symptoms. 

Yeast infections can also occur in the mouth (thrush) and other areas, but these infections are more common in young children or those with weakened immune systems. 

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How do you get rid of a vaginal yeast infection?

    Vaginal yeast infections are treated with over-the-counter (OTC) topical antifungal products or prescription oral medication, such as Diflucan (fluconazole). The topical options include vaginal suppositories (inserts), tablets, or creams. Those who have recurring symptoms or more than four infections in a year may be treated with antifungal medications for up to six months.

  • What causes a yeast infection?

    Candida normally lives in the vagina and is a standard part of the human microbial flora. It only becomes problematic if allowed to proliferate, which can occur under a number of conditions that may disrupt vaginal acidity and floral balance. This can include use of antibiotics, certain contraceptives, pregnancy, menstruation, diabetes, or a weakened immune system.

  • Can men get yeast infections?

    Anyone can get a yeast infection, but they are much less common in men than women. Men often do not experience symptoms, but there may be itchiness, redness on the tip of the penis, and white discharge. About 15% of men get an itchy rash after having unprotected sex with a partner who has a yeast infection. There are also antifungal creams, such as those for jock itch, and oral medications.

  • How long does a yeast infection last?

    It depends on the severity of the infection. Once treated, most vaginal yeast infections resolve within a week. Severe infections may take slightly longer and any recurring symptoms should be evaluated by a physician who may prescribe longer doses or oral or topical medications.

  • Are yeast infections contagious?

    Yeast infections are not considered sexually transmitted infections since you can get them without having sex. They can, however, be transferred between partners during sexual activity. Condoms and dental dams may help prevent passing yeast infections to partners (but some antifungal medications may weaken the material of condoms and dental dams).

Key Terms
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  2. Office on Women’s Health. Vaginal yeast infections. Updated April 1, 2019.

  3. Aridogan IA, Izol V, Ilkit M. Superficial fungal infections of the male genitalia: a review. Crit Rev Microbiol. 2011;37(3):237‐244. doi:10.3109/1040841X.2011.572862

  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Vulvovaginal Candidiasis. Updated June 4, 2015.