Symptoms of Vaginal Yeast Infections

How to tell if you have a yeast infection

Though not usually serious, vaginal yeast infections are characterized by a number of unpleasant and annoying symptoms. In medical terminology, these symptoms are non-specific, which means they can arise from conditions aside from a vaginal infection. There are more than one hundred different yeast infection symptoms.

The most common symptom of a vaginal yeast infection is intense itching and irritation of the vagina. This can be accompanied by soreness, redness, and inflammation of the vulva, the folds of skin outside the vagina. Other symptoms include a burning sensation when urinating, pain during intercourse, and a thick, white, odorless, cottage cheese-like discharge from the vagina.

Since the symptoms of a vaginal yeast infection can resemble those of some STDs (sexually-transmitted diseases), it is best to consult a doctor or gynecologist for an accurate diagnosis.

Should I see a doctor?

If the patient is a child or teenager or if you are suffering from such symptoms for the first time, it is best to check with a doctor to confirm a diagnosis, receive the appropriate treatment, understand possible causes, and rule out any other serious infection or underlying condition.

If you have experienced a vaginal yeast infection in the past, you may recognize the symptoms and feel comfortable self-diagnosing your condition. Provided you are not pregnant, you may also choose to treat the inflammation with over-the-counter medications, perhaps after a brief talk with a pharmacist.

What are the symptoms of other vaginal infections?

It is important to differentiate among types of vaginitis, as the symptoms and treatment will vary. In some cases of vaginitis, no symptoms may be present, which makes it all the more difficult to diagnose.

Bacterial vaginosis is an extremely common type of vaginitis in women of reproductive age. It is caused by an overgrowth of bacteria in the vaginal area. Symptoms include a thin milky vaginal discharge, accompanied by a foul, fishy odor.

Trichomoniasis (known as “trich”) is actually a common, easily curable sexually transmitted disease, caused by a one-celled parasite. It can affect both men and women. In this case, a fishy odor may be accompanied by a greenish-yellowish discharge from the vagina. Sexual contact should be avoided until the condition has been treated, to prevent the spread of the disease.

Atrophic vaginitis is a broader condition, often found in post-menopausal women, due to dramatically reduced estrogen levels. The vagina may become drier, thinner and more susceptible to pain, itching and burning, especially during intercourse.

Non-infectious vaginitis is usually caused by an allergic reaction to soap, detergent, fabric softener, douches, vaginal sprays, or spermicidal products. The result can be itching, burning and vaginal discharge, in spite of the fact that there is no underlying infection.


Most vaginal yeast infections do not lead to serious complications or hospitalizationHowever, under certain circumstances, you should seek medical assistance right away.

Anyone who has a yeast infection and starts experiencing fever, chills, increased urination, vomiting, back pain, yellow vaginal discharge, abdominal pain, foul-smelling discharge, or bloody vaginal discharge should see their doctor or go to the hospital as soon as possible. These symptoms could indicate a more serious problem such as appendicitis, kidney infection, or pelvic inflammatory disease.

Pregnant women who develop yeast infections should always consult their doctors before treating themselves. They need to determine the exact type of vaginal infection they are suffering from.  For example, both bacterial vaginosis and trichomoniasis can lead to premature delivery.

People with weakened immune systems can develop more serious infections. They also could have candidial organisms spread through their bloodstream to other parts of their body, which can be life-threatening. For this reason, people with women with weakened immune systems should always consult a doctor and treat all cases of candidiasis seriously.

Most vaginal yeast infections respond promptly to treatment. However, if your symptoms linger or worsen, you will need to notify your doctor. Secondary infections could develop as a result of the intense scratching and these will need to be addressed by a medical professional. Alternatively, your problem may be something other than yeast and you need to determine the cause of your ailment in order to begin the right treatment.

In addition, about 5% of women may experience recurrent vulvovaginitis. Medically, this is defined as having four or more vaginal infections in the course of a year. These flare-ups could be due to a more serious underlying disorder which requires independent medical diagnosis and treatment.