Most women will get a vaginal yeast infection at least once in their lifetimes. Up to 1 in 10 women will experience frequent yeast infections. Symptoms can include itching, odor, abnormal vaginal discharge, welling of the vulva, and pain.
Yeast infections are considered recurrent when they happen four or more times within a year. Most women with recurrent infections do not have an underlying cause of the infections. Most common yeast infections are caused by Candida albicans, a type of yeast that’s naturally present in the genital area.
In the vagina, healthy bacteria normally hold the growth of Candida in check. However, imbalances or changes in these vaginal bacteria can allow Candida to multiply and trigger the onset of a yeast infection.
Some women are genetically prone to yeast infections. Other women may get them from taking antibiotics for other infections. Other women may get them from taking antibiotics for other infections or if they have certain medical conditions such as diabetes.
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Why Do Symptoms of Yeast Infections Keep Coming Back?
Yeast infections become chronic may become chronic for a number of reasons:
- Your previous yeast infection never really cleared up. It may be that your body didn’t fully respond to the first course of treatment. Your provider may prescribe a longer course of treatment or a different treatment.
- You’ve come across a drug-resistant strain of yeast. Although rare, some species of yeast have become resistant to certain medications used to treat infections. If your yeast infection recurs or never fully goes away, your doctor might prescribe a different medication or treatment approach and/or lifestyle changes.
- It’s not really a yeast infection. Some medical conditions have similar symptoms to a yeast infection. Those include other causes of vaginal infections (bacterial vaginosis, trichomonas), STDs, or skin (dermatologic) conditions.
How Can I Prevent and Treat Yeast Infections?
Here are a few steps you can take to lessen your chance of getting a yeast infection or having a recurrence:
- See your doctor. If it’s your first yeast infection or a prior infection has recurred, see your primary care physician or gynecologist instead of treating it yourself with over-the-counter medications. Your doctor may take a sample to identify the cause of your symptoms and prescribe the right medication to treat it.
- Finish your medication. Take the full course of medication prescribed even if your symptoms clear up before you finish it or you think the medication isn’t working right away.
- Most yeast infections happen on their own. Women do not cause yeast infections due to their hygiene or other personal habits.
- Women who have diabetes or an immune disorder have a higher risk of frequent yeast infections. Keeping diabetes under control and following medical advice for
your other medical conditions can help prevent yeast infections.
- Antibiotics can cause yeast infections. Talk to your doctor if you have questions about
Make sure to keep in touch with your doctor if your yeast infection symptoms do not resolve or come back again.
The UPMC Adult Congenital Heart Disease (ACHD) Center is a joint program between UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh and UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute. We provide long-term care for adolescents, young adults, maternal patients, and adults with congenital heart disease. Our goal is to provide complete care from your childhood all the way through your life. Our team of experts has a wide knowledge of heart conditions.