Vaginal yeast infections 111
Heavy monthly bleeding
Some women have heavy bleeding each month. This may be normal for many
of them, but for others, it can cause anemia (see page 87). Monthly bleeding is
heavy if your pad or cloth is soaked through in less than 3 hours. If this happens to
you, take ibuprofen (see page 345). This can slow down the bleeding and prevent
anemia. If this does not help, or if your monthly bleeding comes more often than
once every 3 to 4 weeks, talk with a health worker.
Discharge from the vagina
It is normal to have a small amount of wetness or discharge in the vagina. This is
the natural way the vagina cleans and protects itself. A change in the amount, color,
or smell of the discharge from your vagina sometimes means you have an infection,
but it can be difficult to tell from your discharge what kind of infection you have.
Vaginal yeast infections
(yeast, white discharge, white period, candida)
Yeast is a common infection caused by a fungus. It usually happens in
the genitals or on the skin where it stays hot and damp (from leaking
urine or sweat) for a long time. Yeast is not usually sexually transmitted.
Any woman can get a yeast infection in the vagina, especially if she
sits for long periods of time as do women who ride wheelchairs. Yeast
infections also happen more to women who have diabetes or are
taking antibiotics. It is best for a pregnant woman to be treated before
the birth, or the baby can get a yeast infection called thrush.
A change in the
smell or color of your
discharge can mean you
have an infection.
Yeast infections are not always in the vagina. Women can also get yeast infections
of the skin, especially between skin folds around the groin, down the insides of the
thighs, or where skin touches on skin around a roll of fat or under the breasts.
A yeast infection of the skin can become an open sore. If it gets dirty with stool
or urine, it can start other serious infections and pass to other areas of the body.
For women with limited movement who sit for many hours at a time, this can be
especially dangerous if it passes to the bones at the very bottom of the spine.
Signs of yeast infection:
• you feel very itchy inside or outside your vagina
• bright red skin outside and inside your vagina, in skin folds, or down the inside
of your thighs, that sometimes bleeds
• a burning feeling when you pass urine
• white, lumpy discharge, like milk curd or yogurt
• a smell like mold or baking bread
A Health Handbook for Women with Disabilities 2007