What is vaginal yeast infection?
Vaginal yeast infection or vulvovaginal Candidiasis is a very common genital infection caused by the fungus Candida albicans. It is approximated that about three in four women will have a vaginal yeast infection during their lifetime.
Usually, Candida is a commensal of the vaginal and intestinal flora, but under certain conditions, it can abnormally multiply and manifest with specific signs and symptoms.
Causes of Vaginal Yeast Infection:
The switch from a commensal state to a pathological one is determined by:
- Hormones (vaginal candidiasis is more frequent in the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle and during pregnancy, when the serum progesterone level is high)
- Certain metabolic disorders (e.g. diabetes)
- Use of antibiotics without medical prescription,
- Immunosuppressive states or disorders,
- Female menstrual hygiene products with harmful substances
- Internal douching
- Excessive hygiene with chemicals that affect the vaginal equilibrium.
Signs and Symptoms of Vaginal Yeast Infection:
The most common manifestations of vaginal candidiasis are:
• increased amount of vaginal discharge;
• change in vaginal secretion color and consistency: white, dense, copious;
• itchy vagina;
• vaginal irritation or inflammation;
• pain during intercourse
It is important to set up a meeting with your gynecologist when these symptoms occur. Postponing the specialty examination and the correct diagnosis can lead to complications, and a reduction in the treatments’ efficacy.
Vaginal Yeast Infection Treatment:
Candida albicans is a fungus so antimycotic agents must be used, whether we speak about pills or about special vaginal creams, ointments or ovules with different concentration and derivates of the azole class.
This treatment necessitates follow-up because the vaginal yeast infection is recurrent, and while it can be easily treated at the beginning, after multiple courses of treatment the fungus can develop resistance to azoles.
In case of severe or recurrent vaginal candidiasis, a long-term treatment is recommended, with combined medical regimens, followed by a maintenance treatment. It is mandatory to have protected intercourse during treatment.
Probiotics included in vaginal products and oral supplements have a beneficial effect in restoring the healthy vaginal flora and preventing vulvovaginal candidiasis.
The main complications associated with vaginal yeast infection are recurrence, depression, sexual complaints, and cutaneous candidiasis of the partner’s genitals.
Although, vaginal yeast infection is NOT considered a sexually transmitted infection, it can be transmitted through oral or genital contact. This is why it is important to have protected intercourse during the treatment and until the follow-up shows elimination of the infection.
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