Yeast Infection or Candidiasis: Causes, Symptoms, Treatments.

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Yeast is a fungus that normally lives in the vagina in small numbers. A vaginal yeast infection means that there is an overgrowth of yeast cells in the vagina. Most yeast infections are caused by a type of yeast called Candida albicans.

A healthy vagina has many bacteria and a small number of yeast cells in a healthy balance with other organisms.The most common bacteria, Lactobacillus acidophilus, help keep other organisms like the yeast under control. If something throws off the balance, the yeast can overgrow and cause an infection.

What causes this imbalance?

Use of antibiotics. Antibiotics can kill off the friendly bacteria and result in too much yeast growing in the vagina.

Poorly controlled diabetes or HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) can lead to too much yeast growing in the vagina.

Taking corticosteroid medicines sometimes also weakens the immune system and increases the risk for yeast infections.

Pregnant women and women on hormone therapies are also at higher risk for getting yeast infections.

Yeast infections are very common and affect up to 75% of women at some point in their lifetime. Yeast infection or candidiasis is itchy and annoying but usually isn't serious.

What are the main symptoms?

Itching or soreness in the vagina.

Pain or burning when you urinate or have sex.

Vaginal discharge which is white, thick, and clumpy,  has no odour and looks a little like cottage cheese.

Usually, occurs during the week before the period.

What increases my risk of getting a yeast infection?

Wearing tight-fitting, nonabsorbent pants or undergarments that hold in warmth and moisture.

Using feminine hygiene sprays, talcs, or perfumes in the vaginal area.

What should I do if I develop symptoms?

If your symptoms are mild, you may want to wait to see if they clear up on their own. Sometimes the symptoms clear up after the menstrual period.

You can treat yourself at home

If you have had a yeast infection before.

Can recognize the symptoms and are sure about the diagnosis.

Are not pregnant.

You can use an antifungal cream, or a suppository that you insert into your vagina, or antifungal tablets that you swallow. Nonprescription medicines include butoconazole,  clotrimazole, miconazole, and terconazole.

When should I call my doctor?


If you an unusual vaginal discharge for the first time

You are not sure that this is a vaginal yeast infection.

Have unusual vaginal itching.

Have pain during sex or urination.

Have any other symptoms that may point to a vaginal infection.

If you have more than 4 infections in a year.

Continue to have symptoms despite home treatment.

Have symptoms return within 2 months

If you are pregnant and have vaginal infection symptoms.

Your doctor will take your medical history and do a vaginal exam. Your doctor can look for signs of yeast or other organisms using a wet mount test of vaginal discharge.

Other tests could include:

A vaginal culture. This test can confirm that you have a yeast infection.

A blood test to find out if you may have diabetes or any another health problem that makes you more likely to get yeast infections.

Your doctor may prescribe a single dose of an antifungal pill containing fluconazole. Some yeast infections are resistant to the more common medications and may require different medications or longer treatment.

If you are pregnant:

Don't try to treat yourself at home without consulting with your doctor first.  Don't assume that your symptoms are caused by a harmless yeast infection. You could have bacterial vaginosis or a sexually transmitted infection (STI), such as gonorrhea or chlamydia, which will require treatment to prevent problems during pregnancy.

If you use a cream or suppository to treat the infection, don't depend on a condom or diaphragm for birth control. The oil in some medicines weakens latex, the material often used to make these devices.

Treatment should be used for 7 days because it takes longer than usual to cure a yeast infection during pregnancy.

In the past, nystatin (such as Mycostatin) was the drug of choice for the first trimester of pregnancy. But now all vaginal medicines are considered safe during pregnancy.

Can vaginal yeast infections be prevented?

If you practice good genital hygiene, you can help prevent infection. Keep your vaginal area clean. Use mild, unscented soap and water. Rinse well.

After using the toilet, wipe from front to back to avoid spreading yeast or bacteria from your anus to the vagina or urinary tract.

Wear cotton or silk underwear, which allows dampness to evaporate, unlike nylon and other synthetics.

Wash and dry your underwear thoroughly and change them often to prevent dampness.

Avoid tight-fitting clothing, such as panty hose, and tight-fitting jeans. These may increase body heat and moisture in your genital area.

Change out of a wet swimsuit right away. Wearing a wet swimsuit for many hours may keep your genital area warm and moist.

Avoid the use if douches or deodorant feminine hygiene sprays.

Eat yogurt that contains active cultures to add to the good bacteria that help your body control yeast.

Take probiotics whenever you need to take antibiotics for any other infection in the body.

Change pads or tampons often.

What Else Could It Be?

Yeast infection symptoms such as vaginal itching, burning, and occasional vaginal discharge can also be caused by sexually transmitted diseases and other vaginal infections.

Bacterial vaginosis (BV). This infection is caused by bacteria, not yeast, which normally lives in the vagina and can "overgrow." The classic signs: a discharge with a strong, fishy odour, and pain while urinating.

Trichomoniasis . This infection is caused by a parasite. It's usually spread through sex. Along with vaginal itching, burning, and a foul-smelling green frothy discharge, common symptoms include redness and swelling of the labia. Pain when urinating is another symptom.

STDs. Several sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), such as herpes and gonorrhea, can mimic yeast infection symptoms. These STDs also can cause painful intercourse or redness or swelling of the labia.

Infection in the cervix. An infection in the cervix can cause a burning sensation or discharge during urination or intercourse.

Pinworms. This parasite can cause a vaginal infection, especially in young girls.

A tampon or IUD. An old tampon or birth control device like a diaphragm or cervical cap left in the vagina too long can cause burning, discharge, or irritation.

All of these conditions need prompt medical attention for diagnosis and treatment.

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