How Long Do Yeast Infections Last?
Yeast infections can seriously disrupt your everyday routine. Understanding symptoms, causes and treatments of yeast infections will help you minimize the duration of your infection and get back to your healthy lifestyle.
What is a Yeast Infection?
A yeast infection can develop in various places on the human body, but is especially prone to spaces that are moist, warm, and dark. Candida is a strain of yeast found on most human bodies. Populations of candida are usually kept in check by bacteria that cohabitate these spaces. When the bacteria are weakened and unable to feed on the yeast, the yeast can overgrow, often leading to a yeast infection.
The most common manifestation of this imbalance is a vaginal yeast infection. This is mostly due to the fact that because yeast thrives in the environment of the vaginal canal, and when both isolated and cyclical changes in hormones occur, yeast can begin to overgrow without its bacteria counterparts to stop it. The most common type of yeast infection is a a vaginal yeast infection, which will affect 3 out of every 4 women at some time during their life.
Although this is the most common form of yeast infection, yeast infections can develop in other parts of the body in both men and women (yes, men can get yeast infections). Yeast infections can grow virtually anywhere on the surface of the skin, but tend to develop in the mouth, armpits, and on a woman’s breast while she is breastfeeding. All yeast infections are relatively easy to treat if identified early on. Minor forms of yeast infection can be treated and eradicated within a few days, while more severe yeast infections may take up to two weeks to clear up.
If you find yourself asking, “How long can a yeast infection last?” you should understand the causes of yeast infection, the stages of yeast infection and your options for treatment.
Causes of Yeast Infections
A common question associated with this topic is How long does it take to get a yeast infection? Yeast infections can develop for a variety of reasons. The onset of your yeast infection may be linked to some of these common causes listed below. Understanding what is causing a yeast infection can help you understand how to treat it, and how to prevent another one in the future.
Lifestyle Causes of Yeast Infections
- Poor eating habits – A healthy diet will help protect your body against infection. Changes in diet may weaken your body’s defenses. This may be accompanied with other ailments, such as increased frequency of colds or flu. If you develop a yeast infection after your diet has changed for the worse, consider remedying your diet to strengthen your body’s immune system.
- Immense stress – Stress can change the balance of your body’s chemistry, which can lead to surprising and uncomfortable physiological changes. Some women report increased frequency of yeast infections during times of extreme stress.
- Tight clothing/new clothing detergent – Wearing tight clothing, especially pants and underwear can restrict airflow to your vagina. Yeast thrive in warm, moist, protected areas. If you find that tight clothing leads to itchiness or discomfort in your genital area, consider wearing more breathable fabrics, like cotton. New brands of detergent may irritate the sensitive skin in contact with your clothing. If the problem coincides with switching to a new detergent, consider trying a different brand. Using detergents with fewer chemicals can help minimize the chance of getting a yeast infection.
- Taking baths – Taking frequent baths can cause yeast infections because they provide a warm, moist environment for yeast. Try switching to showers some of the time if you find that baths irritate your vaginal area.
- Douching – Douching may cause yeast infections because it disrupts the balance of bacteria and yeast in and around the vaginal area. If you experience a yeast infection after douching, reconsider your hygiene habits to eliminate the use of douches.
- Taking birth control/hormone treatment pills - As your body adjusts to a new regimen of contraceptives or hormone treatment, you may experience yeast infections. With treatment and after adapting to the introduction of hormones, these symptoms should go away. Talk to your doctor if you find that your new contraceptive has increased the frequency of yeast infections that you experience. Sometimes even a slight adjustment of the hormones in your birth control can eliminate the problem.
- Sexual activity – Many women report getting a yeast infection after sexual intercourse. If you can, it is best to clean your genitals after sex to get rid of any harmful bacteria. Men can also develop yeast infections in their genitals (although not usually as frequently as females). In these cases, sexual contact can transmit a yeast infection from one person to another. Be honest with your partner if you have a yeast infection and find ways to avoid spreading the infection until your condition has improved.
Cyclical Changes in Women that May Cause a Yeast Infection
- Menopause – Hormonal changes in a woman’s body can throw off that delicate balance between bacteria and yeast. With a drop in estrogen, the skin of your vulva and vagina becomes thinner and weaker. These changes make the skin more sensitive and any irritation can provide breeding ground for bacteria and yeast.
- Pregnancy – Conversely, high estrogen levels associated with yeast infections most frequently during pregnancy. These changes in estrogen levels (compounded with lifestyle changes, presumably such as sleep and diet) can weaken the immune system and stimulate the growth of yeast.
- Menstruation – Some women report yeast infections during a certain phase of their menstrual cycle. Hormonal fluctuations are usually to blame. Relying heavily on pads rather than tampons or menstrual cups can also increase your risk of yeast infection. Throughout the course of your period, try to keep your genital area as clean and as dry as possible.
Pre-Existing Medical Conditions that May Cause a Yeast Infection
- Diabetes – A 2014 study found a connection between women with Type 2 Diabetes and a likelihood of developing vaginal yeast infections. The study hypothesizes that because yeast feeds off of sugars, an increase in blood sugar levels would also signal an increase in yeast, especially in the vaginal regions. Overproduction of yeast in these cases often led to yeast infections. If you experience frequent yeast infections and have been diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes, your doctor can help you develop strategies to minimize your risk of getting yeast infections in the future.
- HIV – Women who have HIV may experience more frequent yeast infections because of their weakened immune systems. Being sure to maintain a healthy diet, sleeping cycle, and lifestyle will help support your body’s immune system.
How Long Does it Take to Get a Yeast Infection?
Depending on which of these numerous causes is to blame for your yeast infection, the full manifestation of an infection will usually develop within 1-3 days. Some reoccurring forms of yeast infection will advance faster, and you may begin to recognize the symptoms earlier on. Treatment can begin as soon as your doctor confirms you have a yeast infection.
Stages of Yeast Infection
How long do yeast infections last ? A vaginal yeast infection comes with specific and uncomfortable symptoms. With appropriate treatment, a vaginal yeast infection should not last more than 7 days.
First Stage: Symptoms
The onset of a vaginal yeast infection will typically be marked by the following symptoms:
- Persistent itchiness in genital area
- Pain during urination
- Stinging sensations in the vagina or vulva
- Pain during intercourse
- Thick, lumpy vaginal discharge
- Redness in the vagina and vulva
- Swelling of the labia and vulva
It is important to note that the yeast infection symptoms in women are similar to those of other STIs and genital infections. Seeing a PlushCare doctor by phone or video chat can usually help you determine if you are suffering from a yeast infection within only one appointment (and yes, an online doctor can prescribe medication!).
Second Stage: Treatment
Treatment for yeast infections can be found in various forms. There are several over the counter (OTC), prescription, and home remedies that effectively fend off a yeast infection. Regardless of what type of yeast infection you are battling, most treatments involve antifungal properties, be it in the form of a cream or suppository. Symptoms should go away within 2-3 days of beginning a treatment regimen.
As you begin a treatment schedule…:
- 1st you will notice: Discharge should return to a normal consistency and smell.
- 2nd you will notice: Itching should go away, which will alleviate much of the discomfort associated with the infection.
- 3rd you will notice: Any rash, swelling, or redness should stop. Your genitals should return to a healthy appearance and feel.
Other forms of yeast infection, like a yeast infection of the breast (during breastfeeding), may take longer to completely go away. Talk to your doctor to make sure you are choosing the right treatment option for your yeast infection.
How Long Does Yeast Infection Last?
Depending on the type of infection, your yeast infection may last anywhere between 3 and 7 days. Treatments for yeast infections are readily available, and easy to use, and should eradicate the infection within a few days. If your infection persists or worsens beyond 7 days, you may have a more serious infection and should contact your doctor immediately.
How PlushCare Works
In today’s age of unpredictable waiting rooms and swamped doctors, online services like PlushCare save you time and stress. All of our visits with patients are confidential and convenient and require as little as a phone or video consultation. This can be especially helpful for addressing personal health problems, especially when they are of a sensitive nature.
Our team of medical professionals has extensive experience consulting with patients about their treatment options, including both over the counter and prescription medicines, and can help you understand which method is right for you.
Read more from our Yeast Infection series:
- How Do I Know if I Have A Yeast Infection?
- Can Yeast Infections Go Away on Their Own?
- Can Sex Cause a Yeast Infection?