Home Gynaecology Care Vaginal Yeast Infection: Symptoms,Diagnosis, Causes, and Treatment

Vaginal Yeast Infection: Symptoms,Diagnosis, Causes, and Treatment

Overview

Many microorganisms inhabit the human body.  A healthy vagina contains bacteria and a few yeast cells. However, when the balance of yeast changes and bacteria, the yeast cells may multiply. This causes intense itching, swelling, and irritation.

Almost three out of four women are affected by vaginal infection or vaginal candidiasis at some point in their life. The vaginal yeast infection is a fungal infection of the vagina and the surrounding tissues of the vagina that results in intense itchiness, redness, and discharge. A yeast infection is not a sexually transmitted infection and can be effectively treated.

What are the Symptoms of a Yeast Infection?

Symptoms of a yeast infection include:

  • Burning sensation during sexual intercourse
  • Burning sensation while peeing
  • Vaginal pain and soreness
  • Swelling and redness of the vulva
  • Irritation and itching of the vagina
  • Watery discharge from the vagina

You may develop a more severe  yeast infection in the following cases:

  • Experience four or more yeast infections in a year
  • Suffering from uncontrolled diabetes
  • Pregnancy
  • Severe redness, swelling, and itching
  • Weakened immune system due to HIV infection

How is the Diagnosis of the Vaginal Yeast Infection Made?

Your doctor would confirm the infection by:

  • Taking your detailed medical history,
  • Performing a pelvic examination. Your doctor would also externally examine your genitals for the signs of infection. The doctor would also closely examine the vagina and the cervix to confirm the diagnosis.

Sampling. Your doctor may also take samples of some of the vaginal fluid and send it for testing to identify the fungus, which is causing the yeast infection; this can help the doctor determine the course of treatment better and look out for recurrence.

What are the Causes of a Vaginal Yeast Infection?

Yeast infection causes arise primarily due to a fungus called Candida albicans; this happens since the vagina is a host to bacteria and fungi, which live together in a delicate balance. The disruption of this balance results in fungi overgrowth in the vagina, causing a yeast infection. The disruption in balance can be due to:

  • Pregnancy
  • Diabetes
  • Oral contraceptives causing elevated estrogen levels
  • Intake of antibiotics

What are the Risk Factors Associated with a Yeast Infection?

Many factors contribute to yeast infection. These risk factors include:

  • Elevated estrogen. Yeast infections have been observed to be higher in women who have elevated levels of estrogen. These include women who are pregnant or those who take a high dose of birth control pills.
  • Impaired immune system. Women with extremely reduced immunity, such as those suffering from Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) or undergoing corticosteroid therapy, are at an increased risk of having a yeast infection.
  • Antibiotic use. Yeast infection has also been observed to be higher in those taking antibiotics, which kill a large range of bacteria. Due to the strong dose, many of the ‘good’ balancing bacteria numbers also diminish, increasing the growth of the fungi.
  • Diabetes. Women with increased blood sugar and poorly controlled diabetes are also at an increased risk of yeast infections than women with well-controlled diabetes.

How to Prevent Vaginal Yeast Infections?

Most women can prevent vaginal yeast infections through the following methods:

  • Use cotton undergarments.
  • Avoid tight-fitting pantyhose.
  • Avoid unnecessary use of antibiotics.
  • Avoid staying in wet clothes for long.
  • Avoid having hot baths.
  • Avoid using scented feminine products.
  • Avoid douching.

How is a Vaginal Yeast Infection Treated?

Your doctor would treat you depending on the severity of the yeast infection. If you are suffering from a mild to moderate infection, your doctor recommends the following for yeast infection treatment. These yeast infection medicines include:

  • Single-dose oral medication. Your doctor may prescribe a single dose of fluconazole. This medication is not recommended for pregnant women.
  • Short-course vaginal therapy. This course of medication is prescribed by your doctor that involves an antifungal medication for approximately a week that usually clears the yeast infection. These antifungal medications are available as ointments and creams. Also, include drugs such as miconazole and terconazole.

You must visit your doctor if you do not observe any respite to your symptoms. If your symptoms are severe, then your doctor would recommend the following:

  • Multi-dose medication. Involves two to three doses of antifungal medication taken orally; this is not recommended for pregnant women.
  • Long course, vaginal therapy. Your doctor may also prescribe you antifungal drugs for two weeks continuously, followed by once a week for six months.
  • Azole-resistant therapy. Used usually to treat tough resistant fungi. Your doctor would insert a capsule of boric acid into the vagina. This drug is fatal when taken orally and is used only for the treatment against Candida.

So far, no alternative medicines or lifestyle remedies have been proved effective against vaginal yeast infections.

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When to See the Doctor?

You should see your doctor immediately if you are experiencing such redness and swelling for the first time.. Your doctor would help you with the right diagnosis and prescribe you the appropriate medications for the treatment.

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Conclusion

Vaginal yeast infection occurs owing to the imbalance in the proportion of fungi and bacteria of the vagina. The fungi Candida albicans commonly cause this, and the signs of a yeast infection are intense redness, swelling, itching, and discharge from the vagina. Upon visit, your doctor would prescribe you antifungal drugs based on your severity. Since this is a common form of infection among most women, you must visit your doctor when you observe the symptoms and get yourself treated at the earliest.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Can the intake of probiotics help to reduce vaginal yeast infection?

Yes, it can. Some studies report that regular intake of probiotics or the intake of lactobacillus supplements would assist in the yeast’s slow growth in the vagina, thereby reducing the risk of contracting vaginal yeast infections.

2. What are the symptoms of a serious yeast infection?

You may have a complicated yeast infection if you develop tears, sores, and cracks or You observe infection over four times a year.

3. Do vaginal yeast infections come under the category of sexually transmitted diseases?

No. Vaginal yeast infections are not sexually transmitted diseases. These infections can also be observed in celibate women.

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