Yeast Infection or Normal Discharge?

I have been treated for yeast infection a few times in my life. I worry that it might be recurring and that I will pass it on to my partner. How can a woman tell if what she has is a yeast infection or normal discharge? What are the symptoms? And how safe is it to be sexual during and after yeast infections?

W.

Question:

Yeast infections are characterized by a thick cottage-cheese-like discharge and itching. Sometimes the vagina and labia become swollen and painful. Normal discharge is thinner, does not itch or burn and does not have an odor. Yeast infections also do not usually have an unpleasant odor; odor often signifies a bacterial infection.

Yeast, while not considered a sexually transmitted disease, may be passed back and forth between partners. Because most of the time yeast infections are fairly easily eradicated, we don't usually prohibit intercourse, but if you have recurrent or severe infections, it is a good idea to wait to resume relations until both partners are treated. If you have a bad yeast infection you won't want to have sex anyway!

If you are unsure whether you might have an infection, see your doctor. The over-the-counter yeast creams should be reserved for women who have been diagnosed with yeast in the past and in whom the symptoms are exactly the same. If symptoms do not resolve after one course of therapy, a visit to the doctor is in order.

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