Symptoms of yeast infections
You might have a yeast infection if you notice:
- itching, burning, or swelling in and around your vagina
- pain or discomfort in your vagina during sex
- a burning feeling when urinating (peeing)
- vaginal discharge that often looks like cottage cheese (it may also be thinner or absent)
But your symptoms can be misleading. Other conditions can cause similar symptoms, and some of them could be much more serious. If you're not sure or if this is your first yeast infection, visit your doctor for a diagnosis. Your doctor can check to make sure the symptoms are not being caused by another condition such as a sexually transmitted infection (STI; also known as a sexually transmitted disease, or STD) or another inflammatory condition or contact irritant.
As many as 1 in 20 women have recurring yeast infections. This means having at least four infections within the last year (or at least three yeast infections in the last year that did not happen while you were taking antibiotics). You shouldn't ignore a recurring yeast infection - get it checked out. Make an appointment with your doctor so they can help you find out why you are having such frequent infections and suggest a treatment plan.
Consult your doctor if you have fever, pelvic pain, or a coloured orunpleasant-smelling discharge. It is also recommended that you see yourdoctor if you are under 12 years old, pregnant, or breast-feeding, orif you have diabetes or health conditions that weaken the immune system.
For a more complete list of situations where you should see your doctor about your yeast infection, please go to the "When should I see my doctor?" section.
If it's not a yeast infection, what else could it be?
More than half of women who think they have a yeast infection actually have something else. Other conditions, including some sexually transmitted infections (STIs, also known by the older term, STDs), can cause similar symptoms. While yeast infections have few long-term complications, STIs can be harmful if not treated and can even lead to infertility and other serious complications.
How does your doctor diagnose a yeast infection?
Your doctor will diagnose your yeast infection by asking about your symptoms, examining your vagina, and in some cases, taking a sample of your vaginal discharge. The sample can be examined under a microscope and may also be "cultured" (a lab test to check for bacterial or fungal growth).
What kinds of questions can you expect from your doctor? Your doctor may ask whether you have had previous yeast infections and which treatments, if any, you have tried. Other questions help to narrow down when the symptoms started, what types of symptoms you are experiencing, and the colour, consistency, and odour of the vaginal discharge. The answers to these questions are key to finding the proper diagnosis.
A proper diagnosis is very important to ensure you receive the most appropriate and effective treatment to cure your yeast infection. Fill out our "Doctor Discussion Guide" to help you prepare for your doctor visit.