1. During a lifetime, 75 percent of all women are likely to have at least one yeast infection, and up to 45 percent have two or more.

2. Vaginal yeast infections are the second most common cause of cases of abnormal vaginal discharge in the United States (the first is bacterial vaginosis).

3. Yeast infections are quite common during pregnancy, perhaps due to a chemical change in the vaginal environment — essentially there is more sugar in the vaginal secretions on which the yeast feed.

4. About 5 percent of women with vaginal yeast infections develop recurrent vulvovaginal candidiasis (RVVC), which is defined as four or more symptomatic vaginal yeast infections in a one-year period. Most women with RVVC have no underlying medical illness that would predispose them to recurrent Candida infections.

5. A woman's vagina normally produces a discharge that is usually described as clear or slightly cloudy, non-irritating and odor-free. During the normal menstrual cycle, the amount and consistency of discharge may vary.

6. Do not douche. Douching disrupts the balance of normal bacteria in the vagina.

7. Vaginal yeast infections can clear up without treatment. However, there is a small chance that if you don't treat a yeast infection, you may develop a more severe pelvic infection.

8. Treatment of sexual partners is usually not recommended. It is not clear if vaginal yeast infections are transmitted sexually. However, if a male sex partner does show symptoms of Candida balanitis — redness, irritation and/or itching at the tip of the penis — he may need to be treated with an antifungal cream or ointment.

9. Medications cure 80 to 90 percent of vaginal yeast infections within two weeks or less, often within a few days.

10. Take antibiotics only when prescribed by your health care professional and never take them for longer than your doctor directs. In addition to destroying bacteria that cause illness, antibiotics kill off the "good" bacteria that normally live in the vagina. Without the normal lactobacillus bacteria in the vagina, yeast cells can take over and grow out of control.

Copyright 2003

National Women's Health Resource Center Inc. (NWHRC).