A yeast infection is an overgrowth of fungus that is known medically as candidiasis. The most common form of yeast infection is vaginal. But it can also occur in other moist areas of the body like the mouth and armpits on both women and men. And in rare instances, men can also get a yeast infection of the penis.
Vaginal yeast infections are quite common. About three out of four women will get one at some point in their lives, and 50 percent of women have two or more. Certain factors can make a woman more prone to yeast infections. These include menstruation, certain medicines like birth control pills or antibiotics, stress, getting sick and not sleeping well. Being pregnant also raises the chances of a yeast infection, and poor eating habits are also a factor, especially eating lots of sugary foods.
Symptoms of Yeast Infections
Typically the first sign of a yeast infection is extreme itchiness of the vagina and the surrounding area. Yeast infections can also cause redness, swelling, pain or a rash. A burning sensation may occur during sex or while urinating. And the vagina may pass a white, cottage cheese-like discharge.
In the rare instances when a man gets a yeast infection of the penis, the end of the penis can be sore or itchy, produce a discharge or have a burning sensation during urination.
It's important to see a doctor if you suspect you have a yeast infection. This is not so much because the infection is a serious problem, but rather because the symptoms are often similar to dangerous sexually transmitted diseases like gonorrhea or chlamydia. It’s important to determine for certain that it’s a yeast infection and not a more serious issue.
Yeast infections are generally easy to treat. Over-the-counter creams, tablets, ointments or suppositories that are inserted into the vagina are the usual course of action. Women can also prevent yeast infections by avoiding douches, changing tampons or pads frequently during periods, wearing cotton underwear and changing clothes quickly after exercising or swimming. Also, uncircumcised men should take care when cleaning the penis.
SOURCE: U.S. Office on Women's Health
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