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.