Vaginal Yeast Infection? How is it Diagnosed?

A vaginal yeast infection may or may not be easy to diagnose. As shown on this page about the symptoms and causes of vaginal yeast infections, most vaginitis related to yeast will include a vaginal discharge that is whitish and cottage cheese-like with an itchy vagina. In many cases, there is redness and burning on the labia. There may be pain or burning upon urination.

When healthcare practitioners are trying to diagnose a vaginal yeast overgrowth, they will usually perform a medical history and then evaluate the clinical signs, looking for the signature symptoms of yeast.

They may evaluate the vaginal discharge under a microscope and check the vaginal fluid pH to rule out other potential causes of your vaginitis. For a more definitive diagnosis, they may send a sample of your discharge fluid to a laboratory so it can be cultured and further evaluated to see if a Candida species is the cause or if there are other causes.

What About Self-Diagnosis of a Vaginal Yeast Infection?

Let's say you were previously diagnosed with a vaginal yeast infection by a healthcare practitioner and told to use over-the counter creams. This time you believe that the signs and symptoms are exactly the same, so you may try to self-diagnose and self-treat with the same over-the-counter creams. It's possible that you are correct in your self-diagnosis.

On the other hand, you could be wrong...

I think you need to ask yourself these questions:

  • Did my infection ever completely go away?
  • Did the itchy vagina, burning, pain and unusual vaginal discharge completely resolve and return to normal?
  • Or did I initially feel better, but never felt like I was cured?
  • Is that the only treatment option for me?
  • If the treatment didn't work, why do I think it will work this time?

If this is the first time, or the first time in a long time, that you have what looks like a yeast overgrowth in the vagina, it's best to have it diagnosed by a physician so that other causes can be eliminated. Vaginitis has many causes.

If you're going to spend money on a treatment, it should be the right treatment for the condition. For example, treating cytolytic vaginosis or BV (bacterial vaginosis) with anti-yeast medication will accomplish nothing and will prolong your agony, waste money, and delay the correct diagnosis and potential cure.

Also, some yeasts are resistant or can become resistant to over-the-counter anti-yeast medications, so using those medications on the wrong types of yeast won't work, either. You may think you have a Candida albicans infection when in fact you might be colonized by other species of Candida or even other types of yeasts.

Use the knowledge you've gained from this website to ask your doctor specific questions about how she or he is diagnosing your vaginitis. Is the doctor doing a thorough job, or just making an educated guess? Is she or he considering all alternatives, or just relying on treatments that 'usually work'?

If you go to your appointment with knowledge about how a diagnosis should be made, what the options for treatment are, and if you are willing to be an advocate for yourself, you are more likely to leave the appointment with an accurate diagnosis and a better plan of action.

Knowledge of the kinds of vaginitis have, be it vaginal yeast infection, bacterial infection, or infestation with a parasite such as trichomonas, or a combination of any or all of the above, is the key to resolving your vaginal discomfort.

Treatments for Vaginal Yeast Infections

To read about conventional treatments for the yeasts causing your agony, click here.

See how probiotics can help your Candida infection.

Read summaries of studies on probiotics and yeasts.

Return to Candidiasis page.

Return to vaginitis page.

Return to Homepage.

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