Nearly every woman gets a yeast infection at least once in her life. Though the condition is common, you may have many unanswered questions. From how to spot one to how to treat it and ease itching, this FAQ can help. How do I know my discomfort is from a yeast infection? There are common symptoms of a yeast infection, such as a thick, white discharge. A yeast infection doesn't usually have a bad odor, but you will typically experience vaginal itching, pain during urination or intercourse, and swelling and redness of the outer area of the vagina. To confirm a yeast infection, your doctor will take a sample of the discharge and test it. How did I get it? There are many ways for a yeast infection to develop. The cause is an imbalance of the organisms that naturally live in the vagina. This can lead to an overgrowth of a yeast called Candida albicans—a type of fungus. (Sometimes, the fungus is present without a yeast infection.) Changes in estrogen levels from birth control pills or pregnancy can cause yeast infections. So can taking antibiotics. That's because these drugs disrupt the balance of helpful bacteria in the vagina. In their absence, the fungus can grow and cause unpleasant symptoms. You can also get a yeast infection from sex—vaginal, anal and oral. It can occur as a side effect of a health condition, such as diabetes, too. Poor control of blood sugars can lead to yeast infections. Do I need to see my doctor for treatment? Yes, you do. Even if you're fairly certain you have a yeast infection, it's best to see your doctor for a diagnosis. Most treatments are available over the counter and can relieve itching quickly. However, your doctor will make sure that your symptoms aren't from another type of infection or an sexually transmitted disease (STD). Will I get another yeast infection? Maybe. Five percent of women get yeast infections frequently—four or more a year. This usually occurs in women with health conditions that affect the immune system, such as HIV or diabetes. Repeat yeast infections can happen to any woman, however. Ask your doctor about treatment options if you get frequent yeast infections. You may benefit from a long-term antifungal treatment. Can I have sex when I have a yeast infection? There are a few risks to having sex while you have a yeast infection. You can pass the infection to your partner. The risk of passing it to a male partner, though, is very low. However, a man can develop an itchy rash on his penis if he has unprotected sex with someone who has a yeast infection. Keep in mind that some yeast infection treatments cause diaphragms and condoms to weaken. This can make them less reliable for birth control. I'm pregnant. Will a yeast infection hurt my baby? Pregnancy makes yeast infections more likely. Without treatment, the baby may develop an infection in the mouth called thrush during delivery. Work with your doctor to get appropriate treatment. Generally, over-the-counter topical creams for yeast infection are safe during pregnancy. However, the drug fluconazole—a pill to treat yeast infections—is not safe during pregnancy. It may cause birth defects.