A Comprehensive Guide to Yeast Infections
Dr Ankita Gharge

Dr Ankita Gharge

Sep 15Sexual health

A Comprehensive Guide to Yeast Infections

What are vaginal yeast infections?

Vaginal yeast infections commonly occur among women of reproductive age. Yeast or fungi usually exist in a healthy vagina and a protective barrier protects the vagina from yeast infections. Here’s how!

This protective barrier comprises:

  1. Protective bacteria: Lactobacilli, a good bacteria, is naturally present in the vagina. They line up the vagina, preventing invasion of any harmful bacteria into the vaginal walls.
  2. The antioxidant action of lactobacilli: Lactobacilli produces antioxidants that kill harmful bacteria, preventing infections.
  3. Acidic environment: The normal pH of the vagina is acidic and kills any foreign bacteria, preventing the vagina from infections.

But, whenever the balance of bacteria and acidity in the vagina changes, the fungi in the vagina can multiply, leading to yeast infections.

The most common symptoms of yeast infections are:

  • Thick white, odourless, curdy discharge
  • Vaginal itch or irritation

What are the causes of yeast infections?

Vaginal yeast infections occur when the protective barrier of the vagina disrupts. There can be various reasons behind it including:

  • Insertion of foreign objects in the vagina
  • Vaginal douching
  • Using scented vaginal products
  • Poor hygiene
  • Steroid therapy
  • HIV
  • Chronic disorders


How to differentiate between vaginal yeast infections and other infections?

Bacterial vaginosis, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and urinary tract infections (UTIs) are other infections that present with symptoms similar to a yeast infection. Hence, it is crucial to distinguish between them to decide on an appropriate treatment plan.

Symptoms of yeast infections v/s bacterial vaginosis v/s STD v/s UTI

What should you do when you think you have a yeast infection?

In case you notice any symptoms of a vaginal infection, immediately consult your gynaecologist. You will have to visit them in their clinic for a proper diagnosis of the infection. The diagnosis generally includes the following steps:

Medical history: Your doctor will note your medical history, symptoms and other details. Do not hesitate to communicate everything with them.

Pelvic examination: The next step would be to examine the status of your genitals, vaginal discharge or any other indicative symptoms. They will also check your vaginal pH, and they may even collect the vaginal discharge to perform a microscopic examination and check for yeast colonies. After this, the doctor can determine a suitable treatment plan for you.

What are the treatments for yeast infections?

The treatments for yeast infections include certain medications, diet tips, lifestyle and hygiene modifications.

Medical treatment: Your doctor will prescribe a short course of antifungal vaginal cream and tablets to treat the yeast infection. If it is a complicated yeast infection, the treatment would be longer and even include additional antibiotics.

Treating underlying conditions: If the yeast infections are recurrent due to their association with underlying conditions like increased sugar levels or other chronic disorders, they need to be treated with a combined drug regime.

Diet tips: Certain foods can be a contributory factor to recurrent yeast infections. Hence, resolving your diet habits can help.

  • Drink ample water
  • Consume a balanced diet
  • Reduce your sugar intake in the diet

Lifestyle and hygiene modifications: It is crucial to maintain genital hygiene and keep that area clean and dry. Once you start taking care of your genital health, you can prevent vaginal infections.

Cleaning genitals: 

  • Stay away from vaginal douching. Your vagina is a self-cleaning organ and cleaning your vagina while taking a bath with warm water is sufficient.
  • If you struggle with an unpleasant vaginal odour, you can tackle it with a proper hygiene routine. Do not use scented powders and sprays over your vulva and vagina.
  • Do not wash your vulva back to front, i.e. from anus to vulva, because it allows the bacteria to enter your vagina. Hence, always clean from front to back.

Clothing tips: 

  • Do not wear very tight clothing over the genitals and thighs area. Wear comfortable, loose cotton clothing at all times.
  • Avoid using unwashed undergarments for more than one day.
  • Never stay in wet undergarments for long hours. Always change into fresh, dry clothes.
  • Remember to change your clothes after exercise.

Care during periods:

  • Yeast infections during and immediately after the periods are common. Some prevention tips include changing your sanitary napkins and tampons every 4-6 hours during periods.
  • Avoid using scented tampons and pads.


How long does it take to resolve yeast infections?

It usually takes 4-8 days for the yeast infection to resolve, depending upon its severity.

What will happen if a yeast infection is left untreated?

If a yeast infection is left untreated, it can lead to a chronic infection with increased severity of symptoms.

Can you self-diagnose? Are there over-the-counter medicines available?

At-home vaginal pH detection strips are available to chemists. However, only vaginal pH cannot determine vaginal infections. Hence, avoid self-test for vaginal infections and self-medicating. It can result in maltreatment and worsen symptoms over time.

Are yeast infections contagious?

Vaginal yeast infections are not contagious. It cannot be transmitted from the vagina to the penis during intercourse.

Can I have sex while having a yeast infection?

No, doctors recommend avoiding penetrative or oral sex until the yeast infection completely subsides.

What is the right way to sleep when having a yeast infection?

You do not need to change your sleeping position while suffering from a yeast infection.

Read More: Scratching the surface: UTIs vs Yeast infections.


Yeast infections are uncomfortable, but you can quickly resolve them with the right treatment plan. Do not delay consulting a doctor if you notice any unusual symptoms. With your doctor’s help, understand the reasons behind the yeast infection and take the required steps to prevent them in the future.

Disclaimer: This information is educational and should not be construed as medical advice. Please consult your doctor before making any dietary changes or adding supplements.

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