Definition

What is vaginal yeast infection?

Vaginal yeast infections, are also known as candidiasis, are a common female condition. Yeast infections are caused by the fungus Candida. This type of fungus is related to intense itching, swelling, and irritation. Vaginal yeast infections can be spread by sexual contact, but in general they aren’t considered a sexually transmitted infection. Treatment for yeast infections is relatively simple, depending on their severity.

How common is vaginal yeast infection?

According to some recent surveys conducted, 3 out of 4 women will experience a yeast infection at one point in their lives. Once you get a yeast infection, you’re more likely to get another one. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

Symptoms

What are the symptoms of vaginal yeast infection?

It is found that vaginal yeast infections have a common set of symptoms. The length of time your yeast infection is left untreated has a direct influence on how severe your symptoms are. Some frequent symptoms include:

  • Itching
  • Burning
  • Large or small amounts of vaginal discharge, often whitish gray and thick (although there are also times the discharge can be watery)
  • Pain during sex
  • Soreness
  • Rash

When should I see my doctor?

You should contact your doctor if you have any of the following:

  • This is the first time you’ve had yeast infection symptoms
  • You’re not sure whether you have a yeast infection
  • Your symptoms don’t disappear after treating with over-the-counter antifungal vaginal creams or suppositories
  • You develop other symptoms

Causes

What causes vaginal yeast infection?

It is proven that the fungus candida is the cause of vaginal yeast infection. Naturally, your vagina contains a balanced mix of yeast, including candida, and bacteria. Lactobacillus bacteria produce acid, which prevents yeast overgrowth. That balance can be destroyed 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.

The overgrowth of yeast can result from some following conditions:

  • 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 popular 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.

Risk factors

What increases my risk for vaginal yeast infection?

There are plenty of risks engendering vaginal yeast infection, include:

  • Antibiotic use
  • Increased estrogen levels
  • Uncontrolled diabetes
  • Impaired immune system
  • Sexual activity

Diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

 

How is vaginal yeast infection diagnosed?

If your doctor suspects that you may experience this condition, a physical examination will be performed and some tests will be also recommended by your doctor. Yeast infections are simple to diagnose. Moreover, doctors will normally ask you to get information about your medical history. This will include whether or not you have had prior yeast infections. Normally, doctors will also ask if you have ever had a sexually transmitted infection. The next step is a pelvic exam. Your doctor will examine your vagina and the surrounding area to see if there are external signs of infection. They will also examine your vaginal walls and cervix. Depending on what your doctor discovers, they will take a vaginal sample to send to the lab for confirmation. Tests are usually ordered only for women that have yeast infections on a regular basis or for infections that won’t go away. After an initial diagnosis, you may be able to determine the presence of a future yeast infection on your own. 

How is vaginal yeast infection treated?

For mild to moderate symptoms and infrequent episodes of yeast infections, your doctor might recommend some treatment options below:

Short-course vaginal therapy

Antifungal medications are available as creams, ointments, tablets and suppositories. An antifungal regimen that lasts one, three or seven days will usually clear a yeast infection. A number of medications have been shown to be effective, including butoconazole (Gynazole-1), clotrimazole (Gyne-Lotrimin), miconazole (Monistat 3), and terconazole (Terazol 3). Some of these are available by prescription only, while others are available over-the-counter. Side effects might include slight burning or irritation during application. You may need to use an alternative form of birth control. Because the suppositories and creams are oil-based, they could potentially weaken latex condoms and diaphragms.

Single-dose oral medication

Your doctor might prescribe a one-time, single oral dose of the antifungal medication fluconazole (Diflucan). Or, you may take two single doses three days apart to manage severe symptoms.

Over-the-counter treatment

Over-the-counter antifungal vaginal suppositories and creams are effective for many women, and these are a safe choice during pregnancy. Treatment usually lasts from three to seven days.

Treatment for a complicated yeast infection might include:

Long-course vaginal therapy

A treatment regimen of azole medications for seven to 14 days can successfully clear a yeast infection. Medication is usually vaginal cream, ointment, tablet or suppository.

Multidose oral medication.

The doctor might prescribe two or three doses of fluconazole to be taken by mouth instead of vaginal therapy. However, this therapy isn’t recommended for pregnant women.

Maintenance plan

For recurrent yeast infections, your doctor might recommend a medication routine to prevent yeast overgrowth and future infections.

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage vaginal yeast infection?

Following these useful tips may help you avoid this disease:

  • Wear cotton underwear and loose-fitting pants or skirts.
  • Avoid tight-fitting underwear or pantyhose.
  • Immediately change out of wet clothes, such as swimsuits or workout attire.
  • Stay out of hot tubs and very hot baths.
  • Avoid unnecessary antibiotic use, such as for colds or other viral infections.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Review Date: July 31, 2017 | Last Modified: July 31, 2017