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Prevention: Yeast Infection Myths and Facts

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the second most common type of vaginal infection in the country is a yeast infection. The uncomfortable infection, also known as candidiasis, is usually easy to treat with over-the-counter or prescription medication. However, if you are suffering from yeast infections several times a year, that could be a sign of something more serious, like diabetes.

Candida albicans is the fungus in the vagina that causes yeast infections. It normally lives in small amounts in the vagina. Anita Somani, MD, an Ob/Gyn with Comprehensive Women’s Care and OhioHealth Riverside Methodist Hospital, told Prevention reporter Jeanne Sager that the fungus typically won’t hurt you, but it flourishes when there’s excess sugar available.

If you have untreated, poorly-controlled or undiagnosed diabetes, there is probably more sugar than normal in your vaginal secretions. With the excess sugar in your vagina, the yeast takes over and causes an infection.

It is likely that yeast infections won’t be the only sign of diabetes. Feeling more tired or thirsty than usual or blurred vision are other signs to be aware of. Additionally, Dr. Somani says yeast infections can sometimes be a sign of HIV as well. The virus weakens the body, which in turn allows yeast to increase and infect the vaginal membranes. But if you’re uncertain, check with your primary care physician and get tested.

With an infection this common, there’s bound to be multiple myths that you can rule out before seeing your doctor. Some myths include getting yeast infections from using laptops or treating the infection by eating garlic.

While yeast infections are much more common in women, it’s a myth that men don’t get them. Dr. Somani told Sager that a man with an uncircumcised penis can have an overgrowth of yeast in the hood of his penis, which can be passed during sex. This is a very rare situation and it’s very unlikely that you “caught” your yeast infection from a partner.

“A yeast infection is not a sexually transmitted disease,” Dr. Somani told Sager.

To read more about yeast infection myths or whether your yeast infection could be an early sign of a disease, click on the Prevention logo below.

To find an OhioHealth Women’s Health physician, click here.