Vaginal Yeast Infection
What is Vaginal Yeast Infection?
Vaginal Yeast Infection also known as ”Vaginal Candidiasis” is a fungal infection affecting the vagina, which causes severe itching, fluid discharge, and burning inside the vaginal, vaginal opening, and vulva. It is caused by the overgrowth of a fungus called Candida albicans. Symptoms of a yeast infection can include vaginal itching and burning, discharge that is thick and white, and pain during sexual intercourse. Yeast infections can be treated with antifungal medications, which are available as creams, tablets, or suppositories. It is important to see a healthcare provider for proper diagnosis and treatment.
Vaginal Yeast Infection is not a sexually transmitted disease. It is caused by an overgrowth of the fungus Candida in the vagina. It can be triggered by a variety of factors, including hormonal changes, antibiotics, and poor hygiene, but it is not transmitted through sexual activity.
Symptoms of Vaginal Yeast Infection
The signs and symptoms can be mild to moderate and include;
- Vaginal itching and irritation
- Thick, white discharge
- Burning sensation while urinating or during sexual intercourse
- Swelling of the vulva
- Redness or soreness of the vulva
- Pain during urination or sexual intercourse
- Abnormal vaginal odor
Symptoms of a complicated Vaginal Yeast infection
A complicated vaginal yeast infection is one that occurs in a person with a compromised immune system or in a person who has had four or more infections in one year. Other symptoms of a complicated vaginal yeast infection may include:
- A rash or redness on the skin outside the vagina
- Swelling of the vulva
- Pain during sex
- Lower abdominal pain
It is important to see a healthcare provider for proper diagnosis and treatment of a vaginal yeast infection. Over-the-counter antifungal medications are available, but they may not be effective in treating a complicated infection.
Causes of Vaginal Yeast Infection
Vaginal Yeast Infection can be caused at any stage of life, and it affects 3 out of 4 women. It may develop without any visible cause, however, some of the most common causes are ;
- Use of certain medications: Certain medications, such as antibiotics and corticosteroids, can alter the balance of bacteria in the vagina, leading to the overgrowth of yeast. This can cause a vaginal yeast infection. It is important to discuss any potential side effects of medications with your healthcare provider before starting treatment. If you do experience a yeast infection while taking a medication, your healthcare provider may suggest an alternative treatment or recommend taking an antifungal medication to treat the infection.
- Pregnancy: Pregnancy can increase the risk of developing a vaginal yeast infection due to hormonal changes and a weakened immune system. Symptoms of a vaginal yeast infection during pregnancy may include itching, burning, and discharge. It is important to consult a healthcare provider for proper diagnosis and treatment. Antifungal medication may be prescribed to treat the infection, but it is important to follow the provider’s instructions and avoid self-treatment. It is also important to practice good hygiene and avoid douching to prevent the spread of the infection.
- Hormonal imbalances:Hormonal imbalances can lead to a number of different health issues, including a vaginal yeast infection. Yeast infections are caused by an overgrowth of the fungus Candida, which is normally present in small amounts in the vagina.Hormonal imbalances can disrupt the normal balance of bacteria and yeast in the vagina, leading to an overgrowth of Candida. This can cause symptoms such as itching, burning, and discharge.Treatment for a vaginal yeast infection may involve the use of antifungal medications, which can be taken orally or applied directly to the affected area. It is important to follow the treatment plan prescribed by a healthcare provider to ensure that the infection is fully cleared.
- Diabetes: Diabetes can increase the risk of vaginal yeast infections because high blood sugar levels can create an environment in which yeast thrives. Yeast infections are caused by an overgrowth of the fungus Candida, which is normally present in the vagina. When blood sugar levels are uncontrolled, the yeast can grow out of control and cause an infection. Women with diabetes may also be more prone to yeast infections due to other factors such as compromised immune systems, changes in hormone levels, and the use of certain medications. It is important for individuals with diabetes to maintain good blood sugar control and practice proper hygiene to reduce the risk of yeast infections.
- Poor hygiene: Poor hygiene can contribute to the development of a vaginal yeast infection. If the area is not cleaned properly and regularly, sweat, bacteria, and other substances can accumulate and create an environment that is conducive to the growth of yeast. Additionally, wearing tight, synthetic clothing or underwear that does not allow for proper ventilation can also contribute to the development of a yeast infection. It is important to practice good hygiene by keeping the area clean and dry, wearing loose, breathable clothing, and changing out of wet swimsuits or workout clothes as soon as possible to prevent the risk of a yeast infection. If you suspect that you have a yeast infection, it is important to see a healthcare professional for proper treatment.
- Tight or synthetic clothing: Wearing tight or synthetic clothing can increase the risk of developing a vaginal yeast infection. Tight clothing can trap heat and moisture in the vaginal area, creating an ideal environment for the growth of yeast. Synthetic materials, such as nylon and polyester, do not allow for proper air circulation and can also contribute to the growth of yeast. It is recommended to wear loose, breathable clothing made of natural fibers, such as cotton, to reduce the risk of a yeast infection. Additionally, it is important to practice good hygiene, such as changing out of damp or sweaty clothing immediately and regularly washing and drying the genital area.
- Immoral sexual activities: Having multiple sexual partners can increase the risk of developing a vaginal yeast infection. This is because the yeast that causes the infection, Candida albicans, can be transmitted through sexual activity. It is important to practice safe sex and use condoms to help prevent the transmission of sexually transmitted infections, including yeast infections. If you have multiple sexual partners, it is also important to communicate with them about your health status and discuss any symptoms or concerns you may have. If you are experiencing symptoms of a vaginal yeast infection, such as itching, burning, and discharge, it is important to see a healthcare provider for proper diagnosis and treatment.
- Beginning of Sexual Activity: It is not uncommon for someone to experience a vaginal yeast infection after their first sexual activity, as this can disrupt the balance of bacteria in the vagina. However, it is important to note that yeast infections can also be caused by other factors such as hormonal imbalances, a weakened immune system, or the use of certain medications.
- Oral-genital sex:It is possible for oral-genital sex to transmit a vaginal yeast infection, as the yeast fungus that causes the infection can be present in the mouth and genital area. It is important to practice safe sex by using condoms or dental dams to reduce the risk of transmission. It is also important to practice good hygiene, such as washing the genital area regularly and avoiding douching, to prevent the development of a vaginal yeast infection.
- Immunocompromised state: In an immunocompromised state, the body’s immune system may be weakened or not functioning properly, making an individual more vulnerable to infections such as a vaginal yeast infection. This can be due to a variety of factors, including HIV/AIDS, cancer treatment, organ transplantation, or autoimmune disorders.
When to see the physician?
Vaginal Candidiasis is a very common infection and affects more than 90% of women. It can be treated with over-the-counter antifungal medicines, therefore, most of people do not need to see a doctor. But if the infection is not being controlled by home treatment, persists for a longer time, and has more intense signs like swelling and burning, and painful penetration during sex, you should see a doctor. In the following situations one must see a doctor to get the infection treated;
- This is the first time you are experiencing the yeast infection symptoms
- You are not able to diagnose the infection by yourself
- If the infection is not being relieved with over-the-counter medicines
- If you have other symptoms like abdominal pain, painful sexual activity, painful urination etc.
- Unusual odor in the vaginal area
Treatment of Vaginal Candidiasis
Treatment of vaginal yeast infection typically involves the use of antifungal medications, either in the form of topical creams or oral tablets. The specific medication and course of treatment will depend on the severity of the infection and the individual’s medical history.
Topical creams are applied directly to the affected area and are typically used for mild to moderate infections. Examples of antifungal creams include clotrimazole, miconazole, and terconazole. These medications may be used for a period of 3-7 days, depending on the specific product and the severity of the infection.
For more severe or recurrent infections, oral antifungal medications may be prescribed. These medications include fluconazole, itraconazole, and terbinafine. These medications are taken by mouth and may be used for a longer period of time, typically for 1-2 weeks.
In addition to medication, self-care measures such as wearing loose-fitting clothing, avoiding douching and scented hygiene products, and keeping the area clean and dry can also help to reduce the risk of recurrent infections.
It is important to follow the instructions provided by a healthcare provider and complete the full course of treatment to ensure that the infection is fully cleared. If symptoms persist or worsen after treatment, it is important to speak with a healthcare provider for further evaluation and treatment.
To prevent future yeast infections, it is important to maintain good hygiene and to avoid douching, which can disrupt the normal balance of bacteria in the vagina. It is also important to manage any underlying hormonal imbalances to prevent the overgrowth of Candida.
Diagnosis of Vaginal Yeast Infection
In general, the patient can diagnose the occurrence of the infection themselves by observing the above-mentioned signs and symptoms. But if the patient is not sure, whether the infection exists or not, they should consult the doctor and get examined. The doctor will diagnose the infection by the following means.
Inquiring the medical history
In order to diagnose a vaginal yeast infection, a healthcare provider will typically ask the patient about their medical history, including:
- Previous yeast infections: If the patient has had yeast infections in the past, it may be more likely that they are experiencing another one.
- Symptoms: The healthcare provider will ask about any symptoms the patient is experiencing, such as itching, burning, discharge, or pain during sex.
- Medications: The healthcare provider will ask about any medications the patient is currently taking, as some medications can increase the risk of yeast infections.
- Sexual activity: The healthcare provider may ask about the patient’s sexual activity, as sexually transmitted infections can sometimes cause similar symptoms to yeast infections.
- Pregnancy: If the patient is pregnant, this may increase their risk of yeast infections.
- Allergies: The healthcare provider may ask about any allergies the patient has, as some products used to treat yeast infections may contain ingredients that the patient is allergic to.
Once the healthcare provider has gathered this information, they may perform a physical exam and possibly take a sample of the discharge for laboratory testing to confirm the diagnosis of a yeast infection.
A pelvic examination is a common way to diagnose a vaginal yeast infection. During the examination, a healthcare provider will visually inspect the vulva and vagina, looking for signs of infection such as redness, swelling, or discharge. They may also take a sample of the discharge to be examined under a microscope to confirm the presence of yeast. The provider may also perform a pH test to determine the acidity of the vagina, as an abnormal pH can indicate an infection. Other diagnostic tests, such as a blood test or urine test, may also be conducted to rule out other possible causes of symptoms.
Tests of the Vaginal Secretion
A physical examination to diagnose a vaginal yeast infection may involve the following steps:
- pH test: The healthcare provider may use a pH strip to test the acidity of the vaginal discharge. A high pH level may indicate a yeast infection.
- Wet mount test: The healthcare provider may perform a wet mount test by placing a small sample of vaginal discharge on a microscope slide and adding a drop of potassium hydroxide solution. This can help to identify the presence of yeast cells.
- Culture test: The healthcare provider may perform a culture test by taking a sample of the vaginal discharge and placing it in a culture medium. This can help to confirm the presence of a yeast infection and identify the specific type of yeast causing the infection.
Treatment of Vaginal Yeast Infection
Treatment of Mild Infection
Treatment for mild vaginal yeast infections usually involves the use of antifungal medications, which can be taken orally or applied topically to the affected area. These medications may include:
Topical Medication: Taking an antifungal medication for three to seven days will usually clear a yeast infection. Antifungal medications — which are available as creams, ointments, tablets and suppositories — include miconazole (Monistat 3) and terconazole. Some of these medications are available over-the-counter and others by prescription only.
Orally Administered Medication: Your doctor might prescribe a one-time, single oral dose of fluconazole (Diflucan). Oral medication isn’t recommended if you’re pregnant. To manage more-severe symptoms, you might take two single doses three days apart.
It is important to follow the instructions provided by your healthcare provider and to complete the full course of treatment, even if the symptoms have disappeared. If the infection does not improve within a few days, or if it recurs frequently, it is important to consult a healthcare provider for further evaluation and treatment.
Treatment of Severe Infection
If the infection is severe and has complicated symptoms, it may need a long course of medication.
- Long Course of Topical Medicines: The long course of topical medicines for a vaginal yeast infection typically involves the use of antifungal creams or suppositories applied directly to the affected area for a period of 7-14 days. It is important to follow the instructions provided by your healthcare provider and use the medication as directed, even if symptoms improve before the end of the treatment course.During the treatment, it is important to practice good hygiene by washing the genital area with warm water and mild soap and avoiding tight-fitting clothing or underwear made from synthetic materials. It is also recommended to avoid sexual activity until the infection has cleared up.If symptoms do not improve or worsen after the treatment course, it is important to contact your healthcare provider for further evaluation and treatment.
- Multi-dose Oral Medication:
A multidose of antifungal capsules for a vaginal yeast infection is a treatment option that involves taking multiple doses of antifungal medication over a set period of time. This may involve taking one or more capsules daily for several days or weeks, depending on the specific medication and the severity of the infection. The goal of this treatment is to kill the fungi causing the infection and prevent it from recurring. It is important to follow the recommended dosing and duration of treatment as prescribed by a healthcare provider to ensure the best possible outcomes.
- Inhibiting the Growth of Fungi:
Boric acid capsules can be used to treat vaginal yeast infections. They are inserted into the vagina and release boric acid, which can kill the fungus that causes the infection. It is important to follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer and to not exceed the recommended dosage. Boric acid can be irritating to the skin and mucous membranes, so it is important to use caution when using it. If you experience any adverse reactions or if the infection does not improve after using boric acid, it is important to consult with a healthcare provider.