Yeast Infections: Irritating but Treatable
Originally Published: June 12, 2018
Revised: January 3, 2019
Let’s talk about yeast infections. I’d never educated myself about them and, to be honest, never planned to. I figured that you got them from sex because you didn’t pee after. I read that on some online forum. However, I later learned that this is wrong; peeing after sex can help reduce your risk for urinary tract infections (UTIs), not yeast infections. (You read information on a website and believe it’s the truth; this is why asking your doctor or doing further research is essential!) I was clearly misinformed, so I decided to learn more.
You never think something will happen to you until it does. Yeast infections are extremely common. Most girls and women will get one at some point; they affect up to 75 percent of women in their lifetime. (Men can get them as well, but they are less common for men.) Now I’m sharing the information I learned so that you can be prepared, too.
The most common symptom is itchiness in and around the vagina and vulva.
We’ll start with why yeast infections happen in the first place. Basically, there’s a type of yeast called candida and having small amounts of it in your vagina is normal. In addition, it’s normal to have “good” bacteria in your vagina. These keep candida in check. However, in certain circumstances, candida can overgrow, resulting in a yeast infection.
There are various factors that cause candida growth. Did you know that you become more vulnerable to having candida overgrow and getting a yeast infection anytime you take antibiotics? Or when there are shifts in your hormones? Stress, tight clothing, scented female hygiene products and douching can increase the likelihood of getting a yeast infection as well. Katie, 18, of Bronxville, NY, says, “I think I got a yeast infection because of the tight underwear or jeans I was wearing.” Yeast infections can happen to anyone. They are not a sexually transmitted disease (STD), but once you develop one, it’s possible to pass it on to a sexual partner.
So, how do you know you have a yeast infection? The most common symptom is itchiness in and around the vagina and vulva. Other symptoms can include a thick, white vaginal discharge, redness, burning or pain during sex, burning or pain when urinating, and soreness and swelling of the vagina. These symptoms typically range from mild to moderate and a person may have any combination of them. Paula, 17, of North Brunswick, NJ, shares, “It was burning and itchy. It’s irritating because you can’t wear tight pants, and it’s very frustrating.”
It’s important to see a health care provider to make sure you have a yeast infection and not something else. It’s easy to confuse yeast infections with other infections that share similar symptoms, including some STDs. A health care provide can examine you to determine what’s going on and what the best treatment is.
Once your health care provider confirms that you do have a yeast infection, he or she may prescribe a pill to take orally or a cream suppository or tablet to insert vaginally. You can also buy medicine over the counter (typically a cream). However, you shouldn’t buy medicine just because you think you have a yeast infection. It’s important to check with a health care provider first, especially if you have never had a yeast infection before.
Mariam, 17, of Brooklyn, NY, says, “I went to the ob-gyn, and they gave me medicine to treat it in the form of pills… and my infection cleared up.”
It’s important to refrain from vaginal sex or receiving oral sex while the infection is being treated. Creams used for treatment may damage condoms or dental dams, and sexual contact can aggravate the condition and delay healing. You can also spread it back and forth between you and your partner if you have sex.
As I mentioned, yeast infections are super common. If you suspect you have one, make sure that what you’re seeing is actually a yeast infection by getting it checked out!
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