Yeast Infection (Candida)

What is it?

Can­di­da is a fun­gus that nor­mal­ly exists in healthy amounts in the mouth and intestines, and also in the vagi­na. Some­times, the can­di­da in the vagi­na mul­ti­plies out of control.

What should I be look­ing for?

The first sign in female gen­i­tals is mild itch­ing in the vagi­nal area, which may devel­op into severe itch­ing. In addi­tion, your dis­charge will prob­a­bly be thick, white, and lumpy, a bit like cot­tage cheese. Uri­na­tion can be painful.

Male gen­i­tals often don’t show symp­toms, espe­cial­ly if the penis is cir­cum­cised (symp­toms are more like­ly to devel­op on uncir­cum­cised penis­es). Symp­toms could include red­ness at the tip of the penis and the head may be cov­ered with small red dots. The tip may be itchy or sore, and the tes­ti­cles may also itch.

How can I get it?

Yeast infec­tions usu­al­ly hap­pen by them­selves. There are a num­ber of things that can throw off a vagina’s nat­ur­al bacteria/​yeast mix, like tak­ing antibi­otics, hav­ing high estro­gen lev­els, or hav­ing dia­betes or HIV. Sim­ply hav­ing an over­ly moist vagi­nal envi­ron­ment can also lead to yeast infec­tions, such as when under­wear doesn’t allow for prop­er air cir­cu­la­tion or when you wear a wet bathing suit all day. Some peo­ple are just nat­u­ral­ly more prone to get­ting yeast infections.

Yeast infec­tions are also eas­i­ly trans­mit­ted with gen­i­tal-to-gen­i­tal con­tact – peo­ple often pass it to their part­ner, clear up their own infec­tion, and then catch it again the next time they have sex.

How do I get tested?

A doc­tor or nurse can tell you if you have a yeast infec­tion by an exam­i­na­tion, or by tak­ing a swab and look­ing at it under a microscope.

The first time that you have the symp­toms of an itchy vagina/​vulva/​penis you should go to a health care provider’s office or clin­ic. After­wards, you should usu­al­ly be able to iden­ti­fy the symp­toms by your­self and you can get treat­ment with­out a prescription.

Can I get rid of it?

Yes. A yeast infec­tion can eas­i­ly be cured with anti-fun­gal med­ica­tion. You’ll be pre­scribed an anti-fun­gal treat­ment that is tak­en as a pill, or as a vagi­nal sup­pos­i­to­ry (like a cream in a syringe with­out a nee­dle that you put into your vagina).

Anti-fun­gal med­ica­tion such as Moni­stat® or Canesten® can be bought over-the-counter in drug­stores. Some peo­ple pre­fer to treat their yeast infec­tions with sup­ple­ments and home reme­dies that make use of yogurt, gar­lic, or herbs. To find out more about home reme­dies, see a naturopath.

WARN­ING — creams to treat can­di­da can wreck con­doms, so avoid sex until the infec­tion has cleared up.