It is fairly easy to treat a yeast infection, but there are some caveats involved. Repeated yeast infections can be a sign of an underlying medical problem which needs to be addressed, and persistent yeast infections should be treated by a doctor or gynecologist. For women who are experiencing the symptoms of a yeast infection for the first time, a trip to the doctor is strongly recommended to ensure that a yeast infection is really the problem, as opposed to a sexually transmitted infection. You should always go to the doctor to treat a yeast infection if you have a compromised immune system, because the infection can turn ugly fast if your body lacks the ability to defend itself.
Yeast infections, formally known as candidiasis, happen when the natural candida yeast present in the body overruns the vagina. Candidiasis can also appear in other areas of the body, such as the mouth. As the yeast proliferates, symptoms like itching, burning, pain, and a thick discharge appear, and a woman may become extremely uncomfortable. Around three quarters of women experience yeast infections at some point in their lives, often multiple times, and some women grow very familiar with the early signs.
For those who go to a gynecologist to treat a yeast infection, the gynecologist will perform a pelvic exam and take a sample to culture to ensure that candida yeast is really the culprit. If it is indeed a yeast infection, the gynecologist will prescribe anti-fungal medications which may be applied topically or taken orally, depending on the medication, and the yeast infection should clear up in a few days to two weeks.
It is also possible to purchase drugs to treat a yeast infection over the counter. Candidiasis medications such as Monistat are often found in the feminine care aisle at the drugstore. These medications come in the form of vaginal suppositories, creams with applicators, and pills, and the directions on the package are usually very straightforward. Women who want to treat a yeast infection naturally can try a topical application of yogurt with active cultures; these cultures will kill off the yeast and help to restore the normal balance of vaginal fauna.
There are some steps which can be taken to prevent yeast infections. Keeping the vaginal area clean is highly recommended, as is allowing fresh air to pass over the genital area as often as possible. Consumption of a great deal of sweets or use of sweetened lubricants or other materials around the vagina can increase the risk of a yeast infection, because the yeast needs sugar to thrive. Consuming yogurt on a regular basis seems to help with prevention as well. Mild soaps should be used around the area to avoid irritation, and the use of cotton or other natural fiber undergarments is highly recommended.