How Do I Know If I Have a Yeast Infection?

Dec 18, 2023
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Yeast infections are common, affecting about 75% of American women at some point in their lives. You may be able to self-diagnose a yeast infection, but sometimes you should also seek medical attention.

Yeast infections are common, affecting about 75% of American women at some point in their lives. Many women have more than one episode while still others suffer recurring infections, usually regarded as four or more per year. 

While yeast infections usually aren’t harmful, they range in severity, and they sometimes share symptoms with other conditions. At PathMD Labs, we can diagnose your case, confirm a yeast infection, and recommend treatment options based on your condition. Here’s what you need to know to identify a yeast infection and when it’s time to seek medical attention.  

Causes of yeast infections

A fungus called candida albicans is the most likely cause of a vaginal yeast infection. Normally, the vagina contains a natural balance of yeasts, including candida and bacteria that keep yeasts from overgrowing and upsetting the balance. When candida takes over the symptoms of a yeast infection start to occur. 

Potential causes for the lost yeast/bacteria balance include: 

  • Use of antibiotics
  • Immune system problems
  • Uncontrolled diabetes
  • Pregnancy
  • Increased estrogen levels due to hormone therapy or oral contraceptives

Other forms of candida fungus can also cause yeast infections, which are often more difficult to treat than the candida albicans strain. 

Yeast infection symptoms

If you’ve had yeast infections, you may be familiar with the common signs and symptoms. For those who are new to yeast infections, the most frequently occurring indicators include: 

  • Burning or itching sensations in the vagina and vulva
  • Redness and swelling of the vulva
  • Burning sensation during and after urination
  • Thick discharge that resembles cottage cheese
  • Fragile skin on and around the vulva, including small breaks in the skin
  • Discomfort or pain during sex

The symptoms of yeast infections often resemble those from other types of vaginal infections or some sexually transmitted infections (STIs). 

When to seek medical attention

There are times when you should seek treatment for a suspected yeast infection. Contact PathMD when: 

  • It’s your first experience with a yeast infection
  • You’re unsure what your symptoms mean, but they resemble those listed above
  • Your symptoms are severe or different than previous yeast infections
  • Over-the-counter antifungal medications produce no improvement
  • You’re pregnant
  • You experience four or more yeast infections annually
  • You have a suppressed immune system

Non-candida albicans infections may require more aggressive treatment, so contact our office if symptoms seem more severe than you expect. 

Preventing yeast infections

You may be able to avoid yeast infections by making a few small changes to your lifestyle. Consider these strategies: 

  • Avoid tight-fitting pantyhose or underwear
  • Choose underwear made from cotton or with cotton panels
  • Stop using scented feminine hygiene products
  • Avoid very hot baths or scented additions like bath bombs or bubble bath
  • Change out of wet clothing promptly, such as exercise wear or swimsuits
  • Be selective about unneeded antibiotic use, such as when you have a viral illness

Douching can kill helpful bacteria, allowing candida to grow uncontrolled. The vagina is self-cleaning when left to balance itself. 

You can learn more and book a visit by calling the PathMD Labs Los Angeles office. We’re standing by now to help you.