A yeast infection is a fungal infection that causes irritation and intense itchiness of the tissues at the vaginal opening, as well as producing atypical discharges. The condition is very common, with up to three out of four women likely to be affected at some point in their life, most often during pregnancy or when having intercourse with a new partner.

Anytime people have an issue in their genital area, they may be embarrassed to talk about it, and therefore may not always seek medical help. Fortunately, there are over-the-counter (OTC) medicines that effectively treat these infections without a trip to the doctor.

The science of yeast infections

The fungus Candida is responsible for most vaginal yeast infections. Simply put, a fungal overgrowth causes the signs and symptoms of a yeast infection.

Overgrowth of yeast can result from:

  • Antibiotic use, which causes an imbalance in the natural vaginal flora
  • Pregnancy
  • Uncontrolled diabetes
  • An impaired immune