Book an appointment Feather-communication-phone
Symptoms of Yeast Infection in Women

Blog Women's Health

Symptoms of Yeast Infection in Women

writtenByWritten by: Laurel Klafehn
Laurel Klafehn

Laurel Klafehn

Laurel is a linguist at heart and studying to become a Certified Spanish Interpreter and Translator. She believes in making quality healthcare accessible, and is proud of PlushCare's mission to do so.

Read more posts by this author.

October 18, 2021 Read Time - 9 minutes

Symptoms of Yeast Infection in Women

A yeast infection is one of the most common infections that Americans experience. While a vaginal yeast infection is the most common and widely known, women can also experience yeast infections in other places in the human body, such as the mouth or armpits. 

Men also experience yeast infections, although less frequently than their female counterparts. For the purposes of this article, we’ll explore yeast infections in women.

A vaginal yeast infection, also known as candida vulvovaginitis, is a common infection that three out of every four women will experience throughout their lives. Approximately every two of every four women will experience more than one yeast infection. 

Yeast infections are not considered sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and can develop for a variety of reasons. Vaginal yeast infection symptoms can be irritating and uncomfortable, but will usually go away with proper treatment and attention.

  • Book on our free mobile app or website.

    Our doctors operate in all 50 states and same day appointments are available every 15 minutes.

  • See a doctor, get treatment and a prescription at your local pharmacy.

  • Use your health insurance just like you normally would to see your doctor.

PlushCare-App-Steps

Yeast Infections in Women

Every woman’s vagina has a delicate balance of live bacteria and yeast cells. When this balance is thrown off, yeast cells can multiply, which leads to a yeast infection in women’s vaginas and vulva. 

The most common bacteria found in a healthy vagina are Lactobacillus acidophilus, which help keep yeast levels in check. These bacteria moderate the growth of yeast cells and help susceptible parts of your body fight off infection. 

You will most likely notice when this balance is thrown off because the overproduction of yeast can cause an array of uncomfortable symptoms. “Although most vaginal candidiasis is mild, some women can develop severe infections involving redness, swelling, and cracks in the wall of the vagina,” according to the United States Centers for Disease Control.

What Is the Main Cause of Yeast Infection?

There is no single main cause of yeast infection. Instead, yeast infections may develop because of lifestyle habits, environmental changes, skin-to-skin contact with someone that has a yeast infection, health conditions such as diabetes, and even other cyclical changes in a woman’s body. 

Because of this variety of causes, symptoms of yeast infection in women can vary. It is important to discuss your symptoms with your doctor to make sure that what you are experiencing is a yeast infection and not a more serious issue.

Signs of Yeast Infection in Women

The most common yeast infection symptoms in women include:

  • Persistent itchiness
  • Thick, lumpy, white, odor-free, cottage cheese-like vaginal discharge
  • Pain during urination
  • Stinging sensations in the vagina or vulva
  • Redness in the vagina and vulva
  • Swelling of the labia and vulva
  • Pain during intercourse

It is important to note that the yeast infection symptoms in women are similar to those of other STIs and genital infections. To be sure that you are experiencing a yeast infection, you should contact your doctor or gynecologist. 

Yeast infection treatment is easily accessible. However, self-treatment may inadvertently make the problem worse. Seeing a PlushCare doctor by phone or video chat can usually help you determine if you are suffering from a yeast infection within only one appointment (and, yes, an online doctor can prescribe medication!).

Symptoms That May NOT Indicate a Vaginal Yeast Infection

As with any sensitive area of a woman’s body, symptoms may be deceiving. Be on the lookout for these symptoms that mimic a yeast infection, but may be indicative of a more serious problem:

  • Vaginal discharge with a sour, pungent odor – A sour, pungent odor and vaginal discharge may indicate  a sexually transmitted disease or infection, like trichomoniasis.
  • Itching near your anus – Itching may be a sign of hemorrhoids or other genital infection.
  • Blood in your stool/near your vulva – Blood may be a symptom of hemorrhoids. Contact your doctor immediately if you notice any blood in your stool or near your vulva.
  • Fishy, white, or gray discharge – A strong odor associated with thin white or grey discharge could indicate bacterial vaginosis, a bacterial infection of the vagina.
  • Prolonged itchiness associated with use of a new hygiene product or detergent – Allergic reactions to ingredients in soaps or detergents could cause itchiness in the vaginal area. Changing your hygiene regimen may relieve these symptoms.

Women who experience more than one yeast infection throughout their lives will learn to identify yeast infection symptoms early on. If these symptoms deviate from the symptoms you normally experience, be sure to contact your doctor immediately.

  • Book on our free mobile app or website.

    Our doctors operate in all 50 states and same day appointments are available every 15 minutes.

  • See a doctor, get treatment and a prescription at your local pharmacy.

  • Use your health insurance just like you normally would to see your doctor.

PlushCare-App-Steps

What Causes Yeast Infection?

Many things can throw off the balance of bacteria and yeast that (usually) live together peacefully in your vagina. The root cause of your yeast infection may determine the symptoms you experience and how long the yeast infection will last.

Lifestyle Causes of Yeast Infections in Women

  • Poor eating habits – A healthy diet will help protect your body against infection.  If you develop a yeast infection after your diet has changed for the worse, consider remedying your diet to strengthen your body’s immune system.
  • Sexual activity – Many women report getting a yeast infection after sexual intercourse, though vaginal candidiasis is not considered a sexually transmitted disease. It’s always best to clean the outside of your genitals after sex to get rid of any harmful bacteria. 
  • Taking birth control/hormone treatment pills – As your body adjusts to a new regimen of contraceptives or hormone treatment, you may experience yeast infections. With treatment and after adapting to the introduction of hormones, these symptoms should go away. 
  • Immense stress – Stress can change the balance of your body’s chemistry, which can lead to surprising and uncomfortable physiological changes. Some women report increased frequency of yeast infections during times of extreme stress.
  • Taking baths – Taking frequent baths can cause yeast infections because they provide a warm, moist environment for yeast to grow. Try switching to showers some of the time if you find that baths irritate your vaginal area.
  • Douching – Douching may cause yeast infections because it disrupts the balance of bacteria and yeast in and around the vaginal area. If you experience a yeast infection after douching, reconsider your hygiene habits to eliminate the use of douches.
  • Tight clothing/new clothing detergent – Wearing tight clothing, especially pants and underwear, can restrict airflow to your vagina. Yeast thrive in warm, moist, and protected areas. New brands of detergent may irritate the sensitive skin in contact with your clothing. If the problem coincides with switching to a new detergent, consider trying a different brand. 

Cyclical Changes That May Cause a Yeast Infection

  • Menopause – Hormonal changes in a woman’s body can throw off that delicate balance between bacteria and yeast. A drop in estrogen can cause the skin of your vulva and vagina to become thinner and weaker. These changes make the skin more sensitive, and any irritation can create a breeding ground for bacteria and yeast.
  • Menstruation – Some women report yeast infections during a certain phase of their menstrual cycle. Hormonal fluctuations are usually to blame. Relying heavily on pads rather than tampons or menstrual cups can also increase your risk of yeast infection. Throughout the course of your period, try to keep your genital area as clean and as dry as possible.
  • Pregnancy – Conversely, high estrogen levels can be associated with yeast infections, especially during pregnancy. These changes in estrogen levels (compounded with lifestyle changes, presumably such as sleep and diet) can weaken the immune system and stimulate the growth of yeast.

Pre-Existing Medical Conditions That May Cause a Yeast Infection

  • HIV – Women who have HIV may experience more frequent yeast infections because of their weakened immune systems. Always talk to your doctor about treating your yeast or other infections.
  • Diabetes – A 2014 study found a connection between women with type 2 diabetes and a likelihood of developing vaginal yeast infections. The study hypothesizes that because yeast feeds off of sugars, an increase in blood sugar levels would also signal an increase in yeast, especially in the vaginal regions. Overproduction of yeast in these cases often led to yeast infections. 

Yeast infection symptoms can be surprising and concerning if you have never experienced them before. It is important to be proactive about noticing and addressing these symptoms.

Other Types of Yeast Infections in Women

Although yeast infections of the vaginal canal are the most common type of yeast infection among women, the condition can also develop in other parts of the body.

  • Breast Yeast Infection – Also known as Mammary candida, breast yeast infection can appear in women, especially those who are breastfeeding. Irritation of the nipple can lead to a yeast infection of the areola. The symptoms of a breast yeast infection include bright red nipples or areolas, small cuts around the nipple, and a burning sensation around the nipple during and after breastfeeding.
  • Feet Yeast Infection– Fungal yeast infections can develop on your feet, especially during hot months when your feet are in shoes for most of the day. You can usually remedy this using a topical antifungal cream. Additionally, be sure to change into dry, clean socks regularly.
  • Skin Yeast Infection – Yeast infections can develop on virtually any surface of the skin, but areas that have higher levels of moisture, such as the armpits and mouths, are more likely to develop yeast infections. 
  • Mouth – Yeast infections of the mouth are also known as “oral thrush”. However, oral thrush can develop from other physical imbalances that cause the same candida yeast to overgrow. Yeast infections of the mouth are usually indicated by a bright red, usually irritated oral environment, speckled by small white dots. 

Your doctor is your best ally whenever you begin to experience any symptoms of yeast infection. Maintaining open communication with your doctor is the best way to minimize your symptoms of yeast infection, as well as your chance of getting another one.

  • Book on our free mobile app or website.

    Our doctors operate in all 50 states and same day appointments are available every 15 minutes.

  • See a doctor, get treatment and a prescription at your local pharmacy.

  • Use your health insurance just like you normally would to see your doctor.

PlushCare-App-Steps

Get Yeast Infection Treatment Online

In today’s age of unpredictable waiting rooms and swamped doctors, online services such as PlushCare save you time and stress. All of our visits with patients are confidential and convenient and require as little as a phone or video consultation. This can be especially helpful for addressing personal health problems, especially when they are of a sensitive nature.

Our team of medical professionals has extensive experience consulting with patients about their treatment options, including both over the counter and prescription medicines, and can help you understand which method is right for you.


Read More About Yeast Infections


Sources:

PlushCare is dedicated to providing you with accurate and trustworthy health information.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Vaginal Candidiasis. Accessed on September 20, 2021 at https://www.cdc.gov/fungal/diseases/candidiasis/genital/index.html

Mayo Clinic. Yeast infection (vaginal). Accessed on September 20, 2021 at https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/yeast-infection/symptoms-causes/syc-20378999 

Mayo Clinic. Acidophilus. Accessed on October 02, 2021 at https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements-acidophilus/art-20361967

National Center for Biotechnology Information. American journal of obstetrics & gynecology. Impaired tolerance for glucose in women with recurrent vaginal candidiasis. Accessed on October 02, 2021 at https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12388993/

Johns Hopkins Medicine. Yeast Infection. Accessed on October 02, 2021 at https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/candidiasis-yeast-infection

Most PlushCare articles are reviewed by M.D.s, Ph.Ds, N.P.s, nutritionists and other healthcare professionals. Click here to learn more and meet some of the professionals behind our blog. The PlushCare blog, or any linked materials are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment. For more information click here.

Our commitment to you.

PlushCare is dedicated to providing you with accurate and trustworthy health information.

  • right Tick Image

    Research from sources you can trust

  • right Tick Image

    Medical reviews by field experts

  • right Tick Image

    Frequent content updates

More to learn.

Junel Fe Birth Control Reviews

Junel Fe Birth Control Reviews

Junel Fe Are you thinking about starting or switching your birth control to Junel Fe? It’s a good birth control…

Jennifer Nelson 5 minutes
Do Antibiotics Affect Birth Control?

Do Antibiotics Affect Birth Control?

Do Antibiotics Affect Birth Control? Discovered in the 1920s by Scottish physician Alexander Fleming, antibiotics have become a mainstay of…

Andy Wong 9 minutes
World Health Day

World Health Day

World Health Day April 7, 2020 is World Health Day, and the theme is “Support Nurses and Midwives.” What is…

Leah McCabe 5 minutes