Vaginal yeast infections are the LBDs of lady diseases; they’re everywhere, they’re basically the same even if they look slightly different, and pretty much every woman has had one at some point or another.
Okay, so that’s where the comparison ends—no one has ever asked if their yeast infection made their butt look good—but the point is that they’re super common. Over 75 percent of women will experience on at some point in their lives and most will get more than one, according to the Mayo Clinic.
A yeast infection is simply an overgrowth of candida, a fungus found naturally in your vagina, says Pari Ghodsi, M.D., an ob-gyn and women’s health expert practicing in LA. A fungus? In your lady bits? Yep, it’s all part of the delicate microbiome of organisms that keeps things running smoothly downstairs. When all is working properly, the bacteria in your vagina keep the fungus in check, but if something throws off the balance you can end up with an overgrowth of bacteria (bacterial vaginosis) or candida (a yeast infection), she explains.
If you think you may have a yeast infection, getting tested is as simple as a 15-minute visit to the doctor’s office, Ghodsi says. They swab your vagina and look at the discharge under a microscope; you’ll know before you leave whether or not it’s a yeast infection.
Treatment is equally as simple. If you’ve had yeast infections in the past and are sure this is what the problem is, it’s fine to try an over-the-counter medication, Ghodsi says. However, it’s probably worth checking in with your doc. Not only can they screen you for other problems, but if it really is a yeast infection they can prescribe you a stronger, faster-acting medication, she adds.
Not sure what is happening down there? Here are the most yeast infection symptoms in women:
#1. You Find Cottage Cheese In Your Undies
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.
#2. The Urge To Itch Yourself (In Public!) Is Unbearable
We’re not talking about scratching your head here.
If you’ve got a yeast infection, it will be hard to resist sneaking a scratch down there, as your labia will likely feel super itchy, Ghodsi says.
Don’t do it. Even if you do manage to sneak in a good crotch scratch, it likely won’t satisfy the urge for long and can further irritate your already tender privates.
#3. Sex Is Making You Hot… In All The Wrong Ways
A sexy romp should leave you feeling a little flushed afterward, but if you feel a painful heat in your vagina during sex, it could signal a bigger problem. A burning sensation during intercourse, or a constant burning feeling in your vaginal area at any time, is a telltale sign of a yeast infection, Ghodsi says. This symptom isn’t one you should ignore as it could also be a sign of an STI or bacterial infection, so call your doctor right away, she adds.
#4. Peeing Is Problematic
You’ve been potty trained since you were a toddler, but if you find yourself avoiding using the bathroom because it hurts to pee, you’ve likely got a much more adult problem. Pain during urination is one of the signs of not only yeast infections but also urinary tract infections and some sexually transmitted diseases. If this is your main symptom, get it checked by your doctor asap, she says.
#5. Your Lips Are Red and Swollen
Not the lips on your face… If your outer labia and genitals look visibly red or swollen—even if you have no other symptoms—it can indicate a yeast infection, Ghodsi says.
#6. You’re All Kinds Of Crampy
Pain in your pelvis or lower abdomen is another symptom of a yeast infection. Pain from an infection won’t get better with rest, and will likely increase in intensity over time, Ghodsi says.
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