Yeast is a type of fungus that can live on the skin, mouth, digestive tract, and genitals. Some yeast in the body is normal, but if there is an overgrowth of yeast on your skin or other areas, it can cause an infection. A yeast test can help determine whether you have a yeast infection. Candidiasis is another name for a yeast infection.
Yeast infections on the vagina are common. Nearly 75% of women will get at least one yeast infection in their lifetime. Symptoms include:
- Genital itching and/or burning
- A white, cottage cheese-like discharge
- Painful urination
- Redness in the vagina
Vaginal itching, redness, and discharge sound like sure signs of a yeast infection — a fungal infection that’s as common as it is annoying. As apparent as the infection may seem, however, you may face some risks if you diagnose or treat it yourself. These symptoms can also be a red flag for other, more serious health issues. The only way to know for sure is to see your gynecologist — especially if you’ve never been diagnosed with a yeast infection before.
To diagnose a yeast infection, your doctor may:
- Ask questions about your medical history. This might include gathering information about past vaginal infections or sexually transmitted infections.
- Perform a pelvic exam. Your doctor examines your external genitals for signs of infection. Next, your doctor places an instrument (speculum) into your vagina to hold the vaginal walls open to examine the vagina and cervix — the lower, narrower part of your uterus.
- Test vaginal secretions. Your doctor may send a sample of vaginal fluid for testing to determine the type of fungus causing the yeast infection. Identifying the fungus can help your doctor prescribe more effective treatment for recurrent yeast infections.