Vaginal yeast infection is a very common problem among women, experienced by roughly three out of four women at least once in their lives. For some, this might be a one-time annoyance that goes away by itself, while for others it can become a recurring condition that can have an impact on their everyday life and especially sex life. While not a dangerous condition, vaginal yeast infection is accompanied by very unpleasant symptoms such as itching, burning and extreme general discomfort in the genital area. The good news is that this condition can be easily and efficiently treated, so there’s no reason to keep up with this nuisance simply because you’re too ashamed to visit the doctor. With the advancements of online clinics, now you can get your treatment without a face-to-face appointment and get your sexual health back in order.
What’s on this page?
What exactly is vaginal yeast infection?
This condition is caused by the imbalance in the fungi already present in the vagina, and in rarer cases, by the introduction of a new form of fungi that can shift the delicate balance. Other causes might be any changes in the PH value of the vaginal environment. In the vast majority of cases, the condition is caused by a type of fungi called Candida Alnicans. This type of fungi lives naturally inside the vagina, but once the environment is changed and favourable conditions for growth are present, it can start reproducing up to a point where it causes the problem.
If a vaginal yeast infection is caused by Candida, it is usually called thrush or genital thrush. This condition occurs when the lactic acid balance in the vagina is disturbed causing the over-reproduction of the fungi that in turn causes the mentioned symptoms. For some women, the condition can be caused by different and especially resilient species of Candida including Candida Glabrata and Candida Tropicalis. These types of thrush are somewhat more resilient to common treatments and can result in multiple outbreaks within a short period of time. Usually, four outbreaks in one year is the bottom line for diagnosing recurrent infections.
Both bacteria and fungi are a natural part of an organism, including the inside environment of the vagina. In fact, the human body is full of microorganisms that are in delicate balance – medical conditions related to them occur once that balance is disrupted. Same goes for Candida which is a yeast type of fungi, naturally living in the mucous membranes in and around the vagina, urethra, intestines and mouth. This is why Candida, in itself, is not a problem as many believe, but the disruption of balance that allows the optimal functioning of the system.
The symptoms associated with this condition are usually easily recognized, especially by the women who had prior experience with the condition. However, in some cases, testing might be recommended, simply to exclude other possible causes and ensure optimal treatment. The symptoms include:
- Itching and irritation in and around the vagina
- Burning sensation, pronounced during intercourse or urination
- Redness and swelling of the vulva
- Vaginal rash, pain and soreness
- Changes in vaginal discharge
Who can get it?
All women can get this condition, regardless of the age or whether they are sexually active or not. For many it may seem like the infection came out of nowhere and there is no trigger. However, there are some risk factors which have been identified. If you recognize one or more of the risk factors mentioned below, you should pay special attention to potential symptoms of a vaginal yeast infection:
- Diabetes – Women who have diabetes have more sugar in the blood and it can be deposited in the vagina, thus causing Candida outbreak
- Antibiotic or penicillin treatments – These types of medicaments damage the natural lactic acid balance in the body, including in the vagina, creating especially suitable conditions for candida growth
- Pregnancy – Hormonal changes during pregnancy can result in changes in the mucous membranes of the vagina, contributing to the condition
- Weakened immune system – Patients with prior conditions that might have an impact on the immune system are especially susceptible to outbreaks of fungal infections
- Excessive washing
- Poor hygiene
- Sex – Although yeast infection of the vagina isn’t an STD, intercourse can disrupt the vaginal environment, increasing the risk of an infection
For many women, no specific reason for yeast infection can be determined, so sometimes it may seem that this condition affects women arbitrarily, so this is not a reason to be embarrassed or to start panicking. The condition is a nuisance, but it’s easily treatable and not dangerous.
Can it be something else?
While symptoms of vaginal yeast infection are rather specific, they are similar to the symptoms of a number of sexually transmitted diseases or other infections, such as bacterial infections. Among other things, chlamydia and herpes can cause the characteristic itching and discomfort in the genital area, and the same goes for urinary tract infections such as cystitis. If it is your first time experiencing the symptoms, the best course of action is to visit a doctor and get tested so you’re certain about the exact nature of your condition.
Fortunately, there are many different treatments for this condition that are easy to use and have proven to be highly efficient. Some of them, such as Brentan and Canesten are so-called local treatments, usually available in form of a cream that is applied directly to the affected area. They work by destroying the cell walls of the fungi, eliminating them and restoring the normal environment in the vagina.
Others, systematic treatments such as Diflucan are available in tablet form and they act throughout the body and are thus especially efficient if you have a candida infection in other places and not only the genital area. With the same mechanism of action, they achieve the same results, but throughout the body and not just the affected area.
Yeast infection prevention
Women’s genital area is extremely sensitive and prone to different kind of infections and complications, so it’s always better to focus on prevention than on treatment, when possible. There are many precautions you can take to ensure your genital health, including:
- Avoid underwear made of synthetic material
- Ensure good hygiene
- Use special intimate soap for intimate parts
- Pay attention to all possible changes in the genital area
- Always use a condom
- Visit the gynaecologist regularly