Is It A Yeast Infection Or Something Else?

When to Finally Consider Surgery (and Why I Am)

Breathe. Is it a yeast infection or something else?

Raise your hand if you’ve ever had a yeast infection! (I’m raising my hand too.) According to the Mayo Clinic, 75% of women will experience this in their lifetime. Most of us have been there – the itching, burning, pain, and discharge. Often women will self-diagnose and treat the itching with over-the-counter yeast infection remedies. However, studies have shown 50% of women that use antifungal medication do not even have a yeast infection. So why is our sensitive area itching?!

If It Is A Yeast Infection…

  • The tall-tale sign of a yeast infection is what medical professionals will describe as an odorless, “thick, white, and cottage-cheese-like” discharge. There is no other reason that your discharge would consistently look like this.
  • Common Causes – pregnancy, antibiotics, oral contraceptive, increased estrogen levels, impaired immune systems (corticosteroid therapy, HIV infection)
  • Prevention – wear cotton-crotch underwear, remove wet clothes (swimsuits and workout clothes) as soon as possible, avoid unnecessary antibiotics, decrease use of scented feminine products
  • Treatment – OTC medications can typically clear symptoms within a week. Recurring or prolonged infections require an appointment with your physician.

What Else Could It Be?

  • Allergies – soap, laundry detergent, fabric softener, feminine products, toilet paper; anything that touches the sensitive skin within the underwear lines could cause irritation. 
  • Bacterial Vaginosis – Like a yeast infection, this causes redness, itchiness, and irritation. However, the discharge is grey or white with a fishy odor. A physician can treat this with antibiotics different from that for a yeast infection.
  • Sexually Transmitted Infections – Herpes, trichomoniasis, chlamydia, gonorrhea, genital warts. All require different forms of treatment from yeast infections and concerns should be brought to the attention of your physician.
  • Hemorrhoids – These can sometimes be seen externally but some hemorrhoids cannot be easily seen. These can be helped with OTC creams, a sitz bath, and less aggressive wiping. To prevent hemorrhoids you need to stop pushing while pooping or peeing – straining is for pasta!

Want to know more about how to best care for your vulvar skin? Here is another blog on vulvar skin care.