Vaginal yeast infection is a common condition that millions of women will experience at least once in their lifetime. Vaginal yeast infections result from an overgrowth of an opportunistic infection.
Vaginal yeast infection is caused by an overgrowth of a fungus called Candida albicans.
Irritation may lead to small vaginal tears, which can cause slight bleeding or spotting.
If you experience heavy bleeding when it is not time for your menstrual cycle, consult your doctor.
Antifungal medications can help to treat and eliminate a vaginal yeast infection, and it should clear in about seven days.
Symptoms range from discharge, itching, and soreness to vaginal bleeding. While these might cause concern, they may be easier to treat than you expect.
What is a yeast infection?
Millions of women are affected yearly by a yeast infection, making this condition quite common. Yeast infections are caused when the normal flora (the typical organisms that live with us and on our skin daily) turn against us when given the opportunity.
Although other species can cause a yeast infection, the most common one is Candida albicans. This fungus flourishes when a woman experiences an imbalance in her body between the good and the harmful organisms.
Certain behavioral risk factors can make you more prone to developing a yeast infection, such as feminine hygiene, clothing, certain contraceptive use, and sexual practices.
Other situations may cause this organism to grow for reasons a woman cannot control. The use of antibiotics, immunosuppression, and genetics, to name a few, can increase your risk of developing a yeast infection.
Once these microorganisms take over, symptoms of the infection run rampant around the area of the vagina.
Can a yeast infection cause bleeding?
Yes, it's possible for a yeast infection to cause some light bleeding. The irritation you experience from a yeast infection can cause tiny tears in the tissue of the vagina, which can cause small amounts of bleeding.
A prolonged yeast infection might cause bleeding from the constant irritation of the vagina. This bleeding will look similar to breakthrough bleeding and could increase with sexual activity. You may only notice it as you wipe after using the restroom or see it as a small amount on your underwear.
Bleeding during pregnancy
Developing a yeast infection during pregnancy is more common than you may think; they are most common during the second trimester. A yeast infection may cause bleeding during any stage of pregnancy, although it will look a bit different.
The type of bleeding you would experience with a yeast infection during early pregnancy will be light spotting and nothing heavy. Always contact your doctor if you notice bleeding while pregnant, even if you think it is minor.
Bleeding after menopause
Usually, once you hit menopause, vaginal bleeding should stop. A vaginal yeast infection may cause light bleeding or spotting after menopause, although it should not cause heavy bleeding. There are other reasons for bleeding after menopause; some are quite serious, so they should not be ignored.
Bleeding after intercourse
If you have a yeast infection, and you engage in sexual intercourse, you could potentially experience bleeding. The cause for the bleeding is most likely due to small tears in the vaginal tissue from the irritation. Another reason for the tears could be from stretching the vagina during intercourse, leading to slight bleeding.
Symptoms of a yeast infection
Every woman will experience the symptoms of a yeast infection differently. Some women may not even know that they have a yeast infection. Others may experience a range of very mild symptoms to severe, intense symptoms.
The most common symptoms of a yeast infection are:
- Odorless discharge that can be white or tan and appear like cottage cheese;
- Redness and soreness around the vagina;
- Itching that can be mild or intense;
- Pain or a burning sensation with urination.
Sometimes it can be challenging to know if you have a yeast infection or something else causing the symptoms. Your doctor can perform a pelvic exam to collect samples of the discharge to get a more accurate diagnosis and treatment plan.
What medical conditions can cause vaginal bleeding?
If you are experiencing vaginal bleeding, and it isn't time for your menstrual cycle yet, then you are probably wondering what could be causing it.
There could be several reasons that you have this abnormal bleeding. It may result from hormones, pregnancy, stress, or other medical conditions of the reproductive organs.
The only way to get to the bottom of the abnormal bleeding will be an evaluation by your doctor. Write down all your concerning symptoms and questions. Be sure to discuss any stressors in your life that you are experiencing, as well as any medications you are currently on.
Bacterial vaginosis (BV)
Another form of vaginitis, or inflammation of the vagina, BV results from an overgrowth of bacteria in the vagina. BV can cause many of the same symptoms that you would experience in a yeast infection; however, there are differences in the odor and color of the discharge.
Symptoms of BV are:
- Fishy-smelling discharge;
- Yellow or gray discharge that is thin in consistency;
- Itching around the vagina;
- Burning with urination.
Urinary tract infection (UTI)
Some symptoms of a yeast infection can look like a urinary tract infection; however, other symptoms are unique to a yeast infection. UTIs won't give you that cottage cheese-like discharge.
Also, the bleeding seen with a UTI will come from a different area of the body. The type of bleeding seen with a UTI comes from the urethra rather than the vagina. You will probably only note bleeding from a UTI when urinating, which will often look diluted from the urine.
Pelvic inflammatory disease
Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is an infection of the female reproductive organs that is caused by bacteria that are transmitted through sex.
The bleeding often seen with pelvic inflammatory disease occurs during or after sex, and women will often experience pain with sex. Pain is usually felt in the abdomen and pelvis and can range from mild to severe.
PID causes some similar symptoms to a yeast infection, such as vaginal discharge and painful urination.
Cancer and malignancies
Certain cancers may also create abnormal vaginal bleeding, such as cervical cancer, endometrial or uterine cancer, and vaginal cancer.
Symptoms of each of these cancers can vary. The vaginal bleeding noted with these cancers can be watery and occur after sexual intercourse, between periods, or even after menopause. There may also be pelvic pain and pain with sexual intercourse.
Other causes of vaginal bleeding
Women who have not undergone menopause will go through a menstrual cycle each month when the lining of the uterus is shed if an egg has not been implanted into the tissue. Once shedding happens, the lining will flow through the cervix and eventually be expelled through the vagina. This is considered normal menstrual bleeding.
When there is an infection or trauma to the reproductive organs, you may see what is then called abnormal bleeding. This type of bleeding happens between periods and can be heavy or light. It is also considered abnormal when it happens before a woman starts her period (prior to puberty) or after menopause.
Vaginal bleeding may also result from a retained foreign body in the vagina, such as forgetting to remove a tampon. Leaving a tampon inserted can happen, and symptoms may not develop until days later. Medical devices such as an intrauterine device (IUD) can cause breakthrough bleeding or irregular bleeding as your body adjusts to this device; this bleeding is typically only expected during the first few months after the device is inserted.
Other possible causes of vaginal bleeding are:
- Thyroid issues;
- Weight changes;
- Changes in hormones;
- Medications (blood thinners);
- Cervicitis (inflammation of the cervix).
How to treat a yeast infection
There are a couple of ways your doctor can treat a yeast infection. Treatment decisions are often based on the severity of symptoms, the severity of the condition, other risk factors you may have, and the number of infections you have had.
Antifungal medications usually treat a yeast infection of the vagina. These medications can be purchased either over-the-counter or prescribed by your physician.
Antifungal medications are taken either by mouth as a one to two-day course or inserted directly into the vagina. The infection will usually resolve in about three to seven days.
When you should see a doctor
You can try to treat a vaginal yeast infection at home by using over-the-counter antifungal medications. If your symptoms have not resolved after at-home treatment, you should make a visit to your physician.
Other reasons to see a doctor:
- You are not sure whether you have a yeast infection;
- There is an increase in the number of infections you experience;
- The symptoms are extremely severe;
- You develop heavy vaginal bleeding outside your menstrual cycle;
- You develop fever and chills.
Bleeding during a yeast infection may not be a cause for concern, depending on the characteristics of the bleeding and any other symptoms that you develop with it. Always listen to your gut instincts, note your symptoms, and discuss with your doctor to help keep your mind at ease.
Does bacterial vaginosis cause bleeding?
Yes, bacterial vaginosis can cause bleeding from irritated tissue or small tears.
How long does a yeast infection last?
How long a yeast infection lasts depends on the severity of it. However, it can last up to two weeks.
Can a yeast infection affect the kidneys?
No, a yeast infection does not typically affect the kidneys, unless the infection gets into the bloodstream.
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