A vaginal yeast infection is an infection caused by yeast (a type of fungus). Vaginal yeast infection is sometimes referred to as yeast vaginitis, Candidal vaginitis, or Candidal vulvovaginitis. The scientific name for the yeast that causes vaginitis is Candida. Over 90% of vaginal yeast infections are caused by the species known as Candida albicans. Other Candida species make up the remainder of yeast infections.
The most telltale sign of a yeast infection is thick, white, odor-free vaginal discharge, which is often described as looking like cottage cheese. It may or may not be accompanied by watery discharge as well. Sounds confusing? This is why it’s so important to know what’s normal for you and your vag. Some women naturally have more vaginal fluids than others so if yours changes suddenly—in color, amount, or odor—it’s time to get it checked out, Ghodsi says.
Most experts do not consider yeast infection to be a sexually-transmitted disease, but cases of irritation and itching of the penis in men have been reported after sexual contact with a woman with a yeast infection, so it is possible for an infected woman to spread the infection to her male sex partner. Treatment of male sexual partners is not considered necessary unless the man develops symptoms.
Over-the-counter antifungal creams, ointments or suppositories (with miconazole or clotrimazole) are the most common ways to treat yeast infections. These can take from 1 to 7 days. Your doctor may also prescribe a single-dose pill with fluconazole (an antifungal medicine) for you to take. If you’re pregnant, it’s safe to use creams or suppositories, but not the fluconazole you take by mouth.