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Yeast

Yeast, or Candida albicans, lives in and on the body and does not usually cause problems. Yeast infections are very common in people with vaginas/ internal genitals, but yeast also occurs in people with penises/ external genitals. Although uncomfortable, yeast infections are easily treated and are not usually serious.

Causes

Although it is called an infection, the yeast is really an "overgrowth" of what is normally present in or on the body. When conditions change, yeast increases and creates symptoms. The increase in yeast can be triggered by many factors including taking antibiotics or corticosteroids. Yeast is not usually passed during sex, but sex can change the balance in the vagina/ internal genitals and cause yeast to increase. It occurs more often in people who are pregnant, have diabetes, or are immune compromised.

Symptoms

Internal genital (females)

  • Genital itchiness
  • Gential dryness, pain
  • Genital redness and/or swelling
  • Increased discharge (can be thick and looks somewhat like cottage cheese)

External genitals (males)

  • Genital rash (red, raised dots or bumps) which may or may not be itchy
  • White discharge on gentials
  • Foreskin can swell and become tight

Complications

Usually yeast is easily treated and does not lead to complications. Some people get frequent infections. People who have repeated yeast infections should talk to their health care provider to rule out other causes such as diabetes.

Treatment

Treatment options for all genders include include creams that are applied to the skin or inside the body, or tablets taken by mouth. 

Talk to your health care provider about treatment if you are pregnant, have a new partner, have repeated yeast problems or are not sure that you have a yeast infection. They can test and recommend the best treatment for you.

Prevention

Some things you can try to prevent yeast include:

  • Use unscented soap or no soap at all on your genitals
  • Wear cotton underwear and loose clothing
  • Avoid unnecessary use of antibiotics
  • Have a diet low in sugar content
  • Control diabetes

Resources

BC Centre for Disease Control – Yeast
HealthLink BC – Vaginal yeast infection


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