The fungus candida causes a vaginal yeast infection. Your vagina naturally contains a balanced mix of yeast, including candida, and bacteria. Lactobacillus bacteria produce acid, which prevents yeast overgrowth. That balance can be disrupted and lead to a yeast infection. Too much yeast in your vagina causes vaginal itching, burning and other classic signs and symptoms of a yeast infection.

Overgrowth of yeast can result from:

  • Antibiotic use, which decreases lactobacillus bacteria in your vagina and changes the pH of your vagina
  • Pregnancy
  • Uncontrolled diabetes
  • Impaired immune system
  • Taking oral contraceptives or hormone therapy, which increases estrogen levels

Candida albicans is the most common type of fungus to cause yeast infections. Sometimes, other types of candida fungus are to blame. Common treatments usually cure a Candida albicans infection. Yeast infections caused by other types of candida fungus can be more difficult to treat, and need more aggressive therapies.

A yeast infection might happen after certain sexual activities, especially oral-genital sexual contact. However, a yeast infection isn't considered a sexually transmitted infection. Even women who aren't sexually active can develop yeast infections.

Sept. 18, 2015