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Yeast Infection Treatment and Prevention

Dear Dr. Dave and Dr. Dee,

I have itching and vaginal discharge that looks like cottage cheese. Should I see a doctor? What could this be? Was this from having sex?



Dear Worried,

Your symptoms could be signs of a yeast infection. Besides itching and cottage cheese discharge, other symptoms include burning or pain during urination or sexual intercourse, soreness, swelling, or rash on the outer lips of the vagina.

The fungus, Candida, causes yeast infections. Yeast infections are not considered to be a sexually transmitted disease (STD). However, because yeast infection symptoms are similar to STDs such as Chlamydia or Gonorrhea, the diagnosis must be obtained from your physician.

What are the causes yeast infections (yeast vaginitis)?

The following conditions can increase the risk of developing a yeast infection:

1. Women with suppressed immune systems

2. Medical conditions, diabetes or pregnancy

3. Oral contraceptives.

To help prevent contracting yeast infections avoid excessive moisture around the genital area:

1. Wear cotton crotch underwear.

2. Wear loose fitting pants.

3. Wash regularly and dry thoroughly.

4. Avoid douche or feminine hygiene sprays.

5. Change underwear after exercising.

Treatment for Vaginal Yeast Infection

Yeast infections can be treated by topical creams applied vaginally such as nonprescription Monistat or Gyne-Lotrimin. Or, your physician may recommend a prescription cream. Creams provide almost immediate relief of burning, and the infection should clear in a week.

There are also oral medications that clear the infection in a few days, but relief from burning is slower.