What is a vaginal yeast infection?

A vaginal yeast infection is caused by a group of fungi called Candida. Yeast are tiny organisms that live in small numbers on the skin and inside the vagina. The inside of the vagina is usually too acidic for a lot of yeast cells to grow, but if the conditions change, yeast cells may begin to multiply.

Things such as your menstrual period, pregnancy, diabetes, antibiotics and birth control pills can change the environment inside of the vagina so that yeast cells can grow more easily. Moisture and irritation of the vagina may also make it easy for yeast to grow.

What are the signs of a yeast infection?

A yeast infection can be uncomfortable but it is usually not serious. You may have any of the following symptoms:

  • Itching and burning in the vagina and around the vulva (the skin that surrounds your vagina)
  • A white discharge from the vagina that looks like cottage cheese
  • Pain during sexual intercourse
  • Swelling of the vulva (you may not be able to notice this)

Vaginal yeast infections are very common. However, the symptoms are similar to other more serious conditions (e.g., some sexually transmitted infections—STIs). Your doctor can tell you if you have a yeast infection or not. See your doctor if:

  • you have never had a yeast infection before
  • you have diabetes or a weak immune system
  • you are pregnant
  • you are not sure if you have a yeast infection

Treating yourself for a yeast infection when you have another kind of infection can make the problem worse. * Talk to a Prescription Shop Pharmacist to help determine whether you have vaginal yeast infection.

What is the treatment for a yeast infection?

If you have a yeast infection, your doctor may recommend medication that you can buy without a prescription. The treatment   will only work if you have a vaginal yeast infection.

Non-prescription medicine for a yeast infection may be a cream or an ovule (tablet) that is inserted inside the vagina using a special applicator. You can also use the cream on the external skin to help reduce itching. The cream will only work if the irritation is caused by the same infection. Another type of treatment is a capsule that you take by mouth. Make sure you know the right way to take your medicine. * The Prescription Shop carries  the oral tablet, ovule (tablet), and the cream treatments.

How to get the most from the treatment:

  • Read the directions completely before using the medication.
  • Use the medication exactly as recommended by your doctor or pharmacist.
  • If you use medication that you insert into the vagina, use it at bedtime to make sure it stays inside the vagina.
  • Continue treatment even if your period starts.
  • Use menstrual pads or panty liners to absorb leakage or if your period starts. Do not use tampons. They will absorb the medication and decrease its effectiveness.
  • Finish all the treatment even if your symptoms go away before it is finished.
  • Wash reusable applicators with water and soap after each use. Throw out disposable applicators after 1 use.
  • Do not share applicators with anyone else.
  • Shower or bathe every day to keep the genital area clean.

How to feel more comfortable:

  • Wear loose-fitting, cotton underwear and pants.
  • Wear pantyhose with a cotton crotch piece.
  • Avoid synthetic fabrics and tight-fitting clothes.

Is it okay to have sex while using the treatment?

  • Sex is not recommended during your treatment. Your partner could become infected.
  • The medicine used in the vagina to treat a yeast infection can decrease the effectiveness of spermicides, condoms, diaphragms and cervical caps. These birth control methods will not work as well during a treatment and for up to 3 days afterward.

When should you see your doctor?

  • Before using any non-prescription treatment for the first time. You must be sure that you have a yeast infection before using any medicine.
  • If you still have symptoms 7 days after the treatment.
  • If the symptoms get worse during treatment.

What can you do to avoid getting another infection?

  • Reduce the amount of sugar in your diet.
  • Eat unsweetened yogurt.
  • Wear cotton underwear.
  • Don’t wear pantyhose or tights every day.
  • Wipe from front to back after using the toilet. This helps to keep bacteria out of your vagina.
  • Change out of a wet bathing suit or damp clothes as soon as you can.
  • Avoid coloured or perfumed toilet paper, bubble bath, feminine hygiene sprays and deodorant sanitary pads or tampons.
 Minor Ailments. © Canadian Pharmacists Association, 2013.  All rights reserved.