SYMPTOMS OF YEAST INFECTIONS

why did god do this to me? How can you tell that your crotch rot is really a yeast infection and not something else? Most medical types say that you should go to a doctor to get it diagnosed the first time, and then once you know what you're looking for, you can figure it out yourself the next time and respond appropriately. I used to blow this off as a bunch of MDs protecting their turf and their profits, but more and more evidence is accumulating that wimmin often misdiagnose themselves as having a yeast infections when they really have something else. This is bad because you might have a more serious problem that isn't getting treated while you futz around with yeast treatments. Just as bad, if you use an over-the-counter treatment for yeast and you don't really have yeast infection, you might be creating your own personal race of drug-resistant super-yeast, and next time you have a real yeast infection it could be damned hard to get rid of.

A doctor can tell for sure if you have a yeast infection by taking a swab and looking in a microscope. Most of us can't do this at home, but sometimes you can tell by the feel, look, and smell that you have a yeast infection. If your symptoms don't match this list, or you are confused or uncertain, go see a doctor if at all possible.

- feels like an intense itching, burning sensation, localized in your vagina and vulva. This itching is not always present, but can get really bad, so bad you can hardly walk, let alone ride your bike to the pharmacy or doctor to get it treated.

- looks like clumpy nasty white stuff. Most medical descriptions compare the discharge to ricotta cheese, but it can range from thick and not clumpy to faintly yellow to thin and clear.

- smells like bread or beer. In fact, it smells pretty much exactly like yeast, although the yeast used in brewing and baking is an entirely different species (Saccharomyces cerevisiae). No bacteria could smell like that, so it's a great diagnostic.

Finally, in response to a reader's question, i point out that a yeast infection will NOT cause you to miss your period.

RECOGNIZING OTHER INFECTIONS

 There are other nasty critters besides yeast that can sometimes infect your crotch, and it's helpful to know the symptoms of all of them so you can be really sure before you go treat yourself for a yeast infection you might not have.

  • A bacterial infection of the vagina can feel a lot like a yeast infection if the vulval area is itchy or painful. unlike a yeast infection, the discharge can be dark yellow, green, or brown. And it won't smell like bread: it can smell like fish or something rotting, particularly after you have sex. If you think you might have a bacterial infection, or if you're not sure, get your diseased self to a medical professional, sister. The main treatment is prescription antibiotics.
  • Urinary tract infections, or UTIs, are due to bacteria infecting the urethra rather than the vagina. (And if you aren't sure about the difference, check out elf sternberg's page on the sexual anatomy of women.) UTIs can be fairly easily distinguished from vaginal infections by a host of symptoms, including pain or burning when urinating, blood or mucus in urine, needing to urinate often, pain or pressure in back or lower abdomen, and a fever or chills, all of which are typical of UTIs but not yeast infections. If you think you might have a UTI, don't mess around: go see a medical professional, because the infection can travel up past the bladder, causing kidney damage.
  • Trichomoniasis is caused by a parasite that can infect both the vagina and the urinary tract, and is primarily sexually transmitted. If you have a trich infection, your crotch can be itchy or painful, it can hurt to urinate, intercourse can be painful, and occasionally you can experience pain in your lower abdomen. Again, you will have to see a medical person to get antibiotics for trich.