Female yeast infection

Overview

Candida – a yeast infection is considered the most common cause of vagina infections in women. Approximately 75% of women at least once in their life face the problem of vaginal candidiasis. Typically the disease lasts for several days and the symptoms quickly relive, however, sometimes severe infection may occur. Vaginal candidiasis does not belong to sexually transmitted diseases, although the infection may be acquired from a sexual partner, but not necessarily.

Causes

Females who suffer from diabetes mellitus, receive antibiotics are especially likely to develop Candida vaginitis. It may be explained by the fact that Candida spp. persist on our skin and mucous membranes without causing a disease, but under certain circumstances (when the normal bacterial flora, especially Lactobacillus, or immunity are compromised) the yeasts get out of control and start to proliferate and spread affecting the woman’s vagina.

Risk factors

Vaginal candidiasis, Health, hygiene and the immune system concept. Women holds Blackboard with teht in front of intim body partsSome factors are associated with increased risk of developing vaginal candidiasis such as:

  • Antibiotic therapy affects not only the pathogenic flora against which it was prescribed but also kills the normal flora allowing Candida spp. to thrive;
  • Uncontrolled diabetes mellitus is characterized by high glucose levels in the blood, which predispose a person to the development of candidiasis;
  • High estrogen levels (due to pregnancy or birth control pills), intrauterine device or a diaphragm affect the normal vaginal bacteria and make Candida overgrowth possible;
  • Immune deficiency caused by HIV or immunosuppressive treatment damage the immunity and as a result it cannot fight back any infections including Candida;
  • Unhealthy diet containing lots of sugars is also associated with the increased risk of developing vaginal candidiasis;

Classification

  1. Uncomplicated vaginal candidiasis

  • Infrequent/sporadic vaginal yeast infection;
  • Mild to moderate vaginal candidiasis;
  • Candidiasis caused likely by Candida albicans;
  • The disease occurs in women with normal immune function;
  1. Complicated vaginal candidiasis

  • Recurrent vaginal candidiasis;
  • Severe vaginal infection;
  • Vaginal yeast infection caused by other species than Candida albicans;
  • Vaginal infection in persons with uncontrolled diabetes mellitus, immunosuppressed individuals and pregnant women;

Symptoms

Vaginal candidiasis is characterized by the following symptoms;

  • Itching of the vulva and vagina;
  • Odorless vaginal discharge of variable consistency, most common – thick, curd-like discharge consisting of the yeasts, epithelial cells, and leukocytes;
  • Pain during sexual intercourse (dyspareunia);
  • Painful or burning sensation while urinating (dysuria);
  • Vaginal irritation;
  • Vaginal rash;
  • Redness (erythema) and swelling (edema) of the vagina;

Candida may also cause endometritis and affect the urethra.

Diagnosis             

The pelvic examination is performed to examine the vagina and vulva. A vaginal discharge may be taken to confirm the presence of Candida species.  

Treatment

Uncomplicated vaginal candidiasis is treated with antifungal medications (butoconazole, clotrimazole, miconazole) administered for 3 to 7 days. Single-dose fluconazole may also be effective.

In case of complicated vaginal candidiasis long-term antifungal therapy is required. Vaginal cream, ointment or suppository should be administered for 7-14 days. Sometimes it is recommended to continue taking drugs to prevent disease recurrence (so-called maintenance therapy).

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