Testing for Yeast Infection

Yeast infections are common and can be uncomfortable. Testing helps confirm whether symptoms are due to a yeast infection or another condition. Early diagnosis can prevent complications and provide relief faster.

Recognizing the Signs of a Yeast Infection

Identifying a yeast infection early helps in seeking timely treatment. Recognize these common symptoms to differentiate a yeast infection from other conditions.

Itching and Irritation in the Vaginal Area

  • Constant Discomfort: Persistent itching around the vaginal area is a classic sign of a yeast infection.
  • Worsening at Night: The itching often intensifies at night, making it difficult to sleep.
  • External Irritation: The irritation can extend to the vulva, causing noticeable discomfort.

Burning Sensation During Urination or Intercourse

  • During Urination: A sharp, burning feeling when urinating is a common symptom. This occurs because the urine irritates the already inflamed vaginal tissues.
  • During Intercourse: Pain or burning during sexual intercourse can indicate a yeast infection. The inflamed tissues become more sensitive, leading to discomfort.

Redness and Swelling of the Vulva

  • Visible Changes: The vulva may appear red and swollen. This redness is due to inflammation caused by the overgrowth of yeast.
  • Tenderness: The area may become tender to the touch, contributing to the overall discomfort.

Vaginal Discharge

  • Thick and White: A common sign of a yeast infection is thick, white discharge. Often described as resembling cottage cheese, it is typically odorless.
  • Clumpy Texture: Unlike other infections, the discharge from a yeast infection is not watery but clumpy.
  • No Strong Odor: The discharge generally does not have a strong or unpleasant odor, which helps differentiate it from bacterial infections like bacterial vaginosis.

Symptoms That Require Medical Attention

  • Intense Itching: If the itching becomes unbearable or does not improve with over-the-counter treatments.
  • Significant Discomfort: Severe burning or pain in the vaginal area, especially if it impacts daily activities.
  • High Fever: A fever alongside other symptoms may indicate a more severe infection that requires medical attention.

Recurring Infections and Their Implications

  • Frequent Infections: Experiencing more than four yeast infections in a year is a sign to see a doctor. This could indicate an underlying health issue.
  • Persistent Symptoms: If symptoms return shortly after treatment, it suggests the need for a more in-depth medical evaluation.

Why is Yeast Infection Testing Important?

Testing identifies the presence of Candida, a type of fungus causing yeast infections. It also determines if symptoms are from yeast or another issue. This ensures you get the right treatment.

Avoiding Complications with Timely Treatment:

Timely treatment prevents complications. Yeast infections can cause severe discomfort and disrupt daily activities. They may also lead to skin cracks or sores, making you more susceptible to other infections. For instance, recurrent infections might indicate a more serious underlying condition, which needs medical attention.

Differentiating Between Yeast Infections and Other Conditions:

Many conditions mimic yeast infections. Bacterial vaginosis and trichomoniasis have similar symptoms but need different treatments. Vaginal pH tests can help differentiate these conditions. Yeast infections typically do not alter vaginal pH, while bacterial infections do. Accurate diagnosis ensures you use the correct treatment, preventing unnecessary complications.

How Do Doctors Test for Yeast Infection?

Doctors use several methods to test for yeast infections. Understanding these methods helps you know what to expect during a medical visit.

Test Vaginal Secretions

Collecting and Analyzing Vaginal Fluid Samples:
Doctors often start by collecting a sample of vaginal discharge. This is done using a sterile cotton swab, which is gently inserted into your vagina to gather fluid. The sample is then analyzed to check for signs of infection.

Identifying the Type of Fungus Involved:
Once the sample is collected, it is examined under a microscope. This helps identify the presence of yeast cells and determine the type of fungus causing the infection. Most yeast infections are due to Candida albicans, but other types of Candida can also cause infections.

Other Diagnostic Methods

Physical Examination:
A doctor might perform a pelvic exam to look for physical signs of a yeast infection. These signs can include redness, swelling, and abnormal discharge. The physical exam provides immediate clues about your condition.

Microscopic Analysis and Culture Tests:

  • Microscopic Analysis: This involves placing the collected vaginal fluid on a glass slide and examining it under a microscope. Doctors look for yeast cells and other microorganisms. Sometimes, a saline solution or potassium hydroxide (KOH) is added to the sample to make yeast cells more visible.
  • Culture Tests: If the microscopic analysis is inconclusive, a culture test may be performed. The vaginal fluid is placed in a growth medium to see if yeast or other pathogens grow. This method can identify the exact type of yeast or bacteria, which helps in choosing the right treatment.

Molecular Tests and Their Accuracy:
Molecular tests, such as Nucleic Acid Amplification Tests (NAAT), can detect the genetic material of yeast. These tests are highly accurate and can identify yeast infections even when the yeast cells are present in very small numbers. Molecular tests are particularly useful for recurrent or persistent infections, as they can detect less common types of yeast that might not be visible under a microscope.

Each testing method has its strengths. A physical exam provides immediate clues, while microscopic and culture tests offer detailed insights. Molecular tests are the most accurate, especially for recurrent infections.

Does Yeast Infection Show Up in a Urine Test?

Yeast infections typically do not show up in routine urine tests. However, under certain conditions, yeast cells can be detected in urine. Here are some scenarios where yeast might be present in urine:

  1. Severe Yeast Infections: In rare cases of severe yeast infections, particularly in immunocompromised individuals, yeast may invade the urinary tract, leading to the presence of yeast cells in the urine.
  2. Contamination: During sample collection, if there is contamination from the vaginal area (where a yeast infection is present), yeast cells might appear in the urine sample. This is more likely if proper collection techniques are not followed, such as not cleaning the genital area before providing the sample.
  3. Foley Catheters: Patients with indwelling urinary catheters might develop yeast infections in the bladder (candiduria) due to prolonged catheterization and compromised immunity. In these cases, yeast can be detected in urine cultures.
  4. False Positives: Occasionally, what appears to be yeast in a urine sample might be artifacts or contaminants rather than an actual infection of the urinary tract.

Diagnosing Yeast in Urine

If a healthcare provider suspects a urinary tract infection caused by yeast (candiduria), they might order specific tests such as:

  • Urine Culture: This test can help differentiate between bacterial and fungal infections. A culture that grows yeast indicates the presence of a fungal infection.
  • Microscopic Examination: Sometimes, a microscopic examination of the urine sediment can reveal yeast cells.

The presence of yeast in urine is usually not indicative of a vaginal yeast infection but might signal an infection of the urinary tract, particularly in patients with risk factors such as diabetes, immunosuppression, or recent antibiotic use.

Comparison with Other STI Tests

Yeast infections and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) often have overlapping symptoms, but their tests differ.

  • STI Tests: STI tests like those for chlamydia or gonorrhea also use urine samples and NAAT methods. These tests are highly effective for detecting bacterial STIs because they look for specific bacterial DNA.
  • Yeast Infection Tests: While NAAT can detect yeast DNA in urine, it’s not the primary method for diagnosing yeast infections. Vaginal swabs and cultures remain more common because they directly sample the infected area.

Key Differences:

  • STIs: Urine tests are the standard for many STIs due to the presence of bacteria in the urinary tract.
  • Yeast Infections: Vaginal swabs provide more accurate results since they sample the infection site directly.

How to Test for Yeast Infection at Home

Testing for a yeast infection at home is convenient and private. Here’s how you can do it effectively.

Types of At-Home Yeast Infection Tests

Several at-home yeast infection tests are available:

  1. Vaginal pH Test Strips: These test the acidity level in your vagina.
  2. Self-Collection Kits: These allow you to collect a sample of vaginal discharge and send it to a lab for analysis.

Both methods offer privacy and can provide quick insights into your symptoms.

Using Vaginal pH Test Strips

Vaginal pH test strips are simple to use. They measure the acidity of your vaginal fluid. Here’s how to use them:

  1. Wash and Dry Hands: Before starting, ensure your hands are clean.
  2. Prepare the Test Strip: Remove the test strip from its packaging, being careful not to touch the test area.
  3. Collect the Sample: Insert the provided swab into your vagina about two inches deep. Rotate it gently for a few seconds.
  4. Smear the Swab on the Test Strip: Rub the swab on the test strip’s test area.
  5. Compare the Colors: After about 30 seconds, compare the color on the test strip to the provided color chart.

Key Point: A normal vaginal pH ranges from 3.8 to 4.5. If your pH is within this range and you have symptoms, a yeast infection is likely. If your pH is higher, you might have bacterial vaginosis or trichomoniasis.

Self-Collection Kits and Lab Testing

Self-collection kits are another option. These kits allow you to collect a sample at home and mail it to a lab. Here’s how they work:

  1. Order the Kit: Purchase a self-collection kit from a reputable source.
  2. Collect the Sample: Follow the instructions to collect a sample of your vaginal discharge using a provided swab.
  3. Mail the Sample: Place the swab in the provided container and mail it to the lab.
  4. Receive Results: The lab will analyze the sample and provide results, often within a few days.

Important Note: These tests can detect multiple causes of vaginitis, including yeast, bacterial vaginosis, and trichomoniasis.

Limitations of At-Home Testing

  • Limited Scope: At-home tests may not be as comprehensive as tests done by a doctor.
  • Potential for Misdiagnosis: Incorrect use of the test or misinterpretation of results can lead to wrong conclusions.
  • Need for Follow-Up: If results are unclear or symptoms persist, you should still see a doctor.


The cost of testing in Canada is usually covered for those with provincial insurance such as OHIP. For those without insurance, most labs charge $15 - $20 for a swab test. At TeleTest, you only pay for messaging with the doctor to discuss symptoms and if necessary, receive immediate treatment. For at-home test kits, the cost can range from $30 to $250.

Professional diagnosis plays a vital role in accurately identifying yeast infections. Doctors can perform specific tests to ensure precise diagnosis and appropriate treatment. This professional intervention helps avoid misdiagnosis of other conditions with similar symptoms, such as bacterial vaginosis or STIs. Moreover, tailored treatments prescribed by doctors are often stronger and more suitable, particularly for severe or recurrent infections. Consulting a healthcare professional ensures accurate diagnosis, effective treatment, and optimal care for yeast infections.

Disclaimer: This blog post is intended for educational purposes only and should not be taken as medical advice. Always consult your healthcare provider for personal health concerns.