Overview of infections

An infection is your body's reaction to a tiny, disease-causing organism known as a microbe. Bacteria, viruses, and fungi are all microbes that can multiply, which can cause an infection. Infections that frequently affect women include:

  • STIs and STDs (sexually transmitted infections or diseases including chlamydia, herpes, gonorrhea, syphilis, HPV, and HIV)
  • UTI (urinary tract infection)
  • Yeast infection
  • Upper respiratory infection (the common cold, usually a coronavirus)
  • Influenza (viral flu)

If you are a woman dealing with a gynecologic infection or other type of infection in NV, AZ, or CA, our team of experienced gynecologists at Dignity Health provide quality care so that you can feel better quickly. Find a Doctor near you to assess signs of infection and begin treatment.

Symptoms of infections

The basic signs and symptoms of infection include pain, redness, and swelling. You may or may not experience a fever along with the other signs of infection. Symptoms vary according to the severity, type, and location of the infection.

Causes of infections

Bacteria, viruses, and fungi can all cause infections. Your immune system usually keeps the bad germs at bay. Some things that may increase the risk of infection are:

  • Decreased immunity: Any medical treatment or condition that weakens your immune system, such as long-term steroid use, diabetes, chemotherapy, or HIV, increases the risk of bacterial or viral infection.
  • Changes in hormone levels: Hormone swings that occur during pregnancy and perimenopause increase the risk of infection.
  • Other medical conditions: Certain medical conditions, such as diabetes, can increase the risk of infections.
  • Sexual activity: Having sex can introduce germs to the urinary or reproductive tracts.
  • Introduction of foreign objects or materials into the body: Having a urinary catheter increases the risk of infection because germs can travel up the tube. Using a diaphragm for contraception increases the risk of UTIs because it makes it more difficult to empty the bladder.
  • Medications: Antibiotics can cure many bacterial infections, but may increase the risk of fungal infection. Other medications that may increase the risk of infection are corticosteroids and immunosuppressant drugs.

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