Vaginal Yeast Infections: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

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A vaginal yeast infection happens when there is too much Candida in your body. Candida is a type of yeast and can lead to fungal infection. Candida lives harmoniously with other microorganisms, but when it gets out of balance, it can grow too much and cause an infection. 

Symptoms of a yeast infection are itching, burning, redness near the vulva, and discharge changes. This condition is not a sexually transmitted infection (STI). Vaginal yeast infections are also called vulvovaginal candidiasis or vaginal candidiasis. Vaginitis is inflammation of the vagina, and yeast infections are a common type of vaginitis that can cause pain and swelling. 

What is a Vaginal Infection? How Do I Prevent Yeast Infections?

A vaginal yeast infection is a fungus that irritates and itches the vagina and vulva and also causes discharge. It is caused by the overgrowth of Candida, a yeast which lives in small numbers. This overgrowth triggers irritation, swelling, and itching. While not serious, these infections can lead to discomfort. 

Prevent Yeast Infections

Candida And Vagina Yeast Infections

Candida is a type of yeast often found in the vagina, mouth, digestive tract, and skin. Under normal circumstances, this yeast normally coexists with other microorganisms. But if the balance is messed up, Candida can rapidly grow and cause an infection.

There are many reasons for this imbalance, such as antibiotics or a weak immune system. These factors can destroy the beneficial bacteria that keep Candida in check. To understand why these infections happen, we need to know how Candida affects the health of the vagina

How Does A Vaginal Yeast Infection Look?

A yeast infection in the vagina causes irritation and redness in the vulva and vagina. A common symptom is a thick, white discharge resembling cottage cheese. But, not all infections will produce this discharge. Other symptoms include:

  • Itching
  • Burning
  • Discomfort during sex or urination
  • Odor

These physical signs are often the signs of the infection and can go from mild to severe. Being aware of these symptoms helps in early detection and treatment. 

Who Is Prone To Vaginal Yeast Infections?

Vaginal yeast infections can affect women of all ages, but they are common during reproductive years. Many things can make a woman more likely to get yeast infections. These include being pregnant, having uncontrolled diabetes, and using hormone therapy.

Women who take birth control or have hormonal changes during their period may be at higher risk. But it is important to know that any woman, regardless of age or health, can get a yeast infection. It is relevant for all women to be aware of this condition. 

Commonality Of Vaginal Yeast Infections?

Several factors can increase the risk of getting a yeast infection. Antibiotics can meddle with the natural balance of bacteria and yeast in the vagina. Changes in hormones, especially during pregnancy or hormone therapy, can present a risk. Certain factors can worsen the problem, like high diabetes or a weak immune system

Wearing tight clothing or using scented products can also add to the problem of body odor. Understanding these risk factors can help you take steps to prevent getting an infection. 

Symptoms And Causes 

If you have a vaginal yeast infection, you might notice these simple signs:

  • Your vagina and the area around it (vulva) might itch or bum
  • A thick, white discharge that looks like cottage cheese 
  • The vagina and vulva appear red and swollen
  • There might be small cuts or cracks in the skin around the vulva
  • It might burn when you use the bathroom
  • Experience a burning sensation during sex 

Why Do Vaginal Yeast Infections Happen?

Vaginal yeast infections typically occur when there is an imbalance in the vaginal environment. Hormonal changes can mess with the vaginal pH. A weakened immune system can also allow yeast to grow unchecked. Certain lifestyle choices, like irritating soaps and tight clothing, can also play a part. Understanding the various triggers can aid in managing and preventing these infections

Get Rid Of  Yeast Infection

Diagnosis And Tests

Your healthcare professional will ask your medical history to diagnose a vaginal yeast infection. They will also conduct a physical exam, which may include a pelvic exam. During the exam, the doctor may take a sample of vaginal discharge for testing. It can be analysed under a microscope to check for the presence of yeast or sent to a lab for yeast culture. 

Doctors may need to do more tests to check for diabetes or other severe infections if you keep getting infections.

Treatment

Treatment for vaginal yeast infection involves antifungal medications. These can be in the form of creams, ointments, suppositories, or oral pills. Over-the-counter medicines can treat many mild infections. Yet, if the infection worsens or lasts long, the doctor must give stronger medicines. To make sure the infection is completely gone, finish the whole treatment. 

If you often get infections, your doctor may recommend a longer treatment or a maintenance plan. It is essential to find and treat the root causes like diabetes or hormonal imbalances.

Prevention

Preventing vaginal yeast infections is all about maintaining a healthy vaginal environment. To do this, wear loose, breathable clothing. Avoid douches and scented feminine products. Use unscented sanitary products. To stay clean, make sure to keep the genital area dry and change out of wet clothes.

It is important for women who get yeast infections a lot to avoid antibiotics they do not need. They should also manage conditions like diabetes well. Probiotics and a healthy diet might also contribute to a balanced vaginal flora. Practicing these prevention tips can lower the chance of getting yeast infections. 

Treatment of Vaginal Yeast Infection

Closing Remarks

Finally, Vaginal yeast infections are a common, generally manageable health issue for many women. To identify and treat the infection early on, we must know the symptoms, causes and risk factors. While the condition can cause discomfort, effective treatments are available.

To prevent problems, take care of your vaginal health and make smart lifestyle choices. If you have signs of a yeast infection, see a doctor for the proper diagnosis and treatment. Remember, managing your health is the best approach to ensuring long-term well-being. 

References:

  1. Barnes P, Vieira R, Harwood J, Chauhan M. Self-taken vaginal swabs versus clinician-taken for detection of candida and bacterial vaginosis: a case-control study in primary care. Br J Gen Pract. 2017 Dec;67(665):e824-e829. 
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5697552/
  2. Urinary tract infection. (2021).
    https://www.cdc.gov/antibiotic-use/uti.html
  3. Vaginal candidiasis. (2022).
    https://www.cdc.gov/fungal/diseases/candidiasis/genital/index.html

Dr. David G Kiely is a distinguished Medical Reviewer and former General Medicine Consultant with a wealth of experience in the field. Dr. Kiely's notable career as a General Medicine Consultant highlights his significant contributions to the medical field.

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