Yeast Infection (Candidiasis): Symptoms, Causes, Treatment

Yeast Infection (Candidiasis) Symptoms, Causes, Treatment

Last updated on July 28th, 2018 at 05:16 am

Yeast infection (candida infection) or vulvovaginal candidiasis (VVC) is caused by the organism called candida and affects millions of women worldwide.

There are different types of candida that can cause yeast infection. They are candida albicans, candida tropicalis, candida glabrata and candida krusei. The commonest specie that cause yeast infection is candida albicans. However, the other species can cause severe and recurrent disease.

Candida is a diploid fungi and can infect other parts of the body. The mouth (oral thrush), anal area, the genitals of men an women.


What is the normal vaginal discharge?

The vagina in women is covered by stratified squamous cells during child bearing age. In young women due to effects of estrogen, the normal pH of the vagina is between 3.5 and 4.5 while the lactobacilli are the most common organism present in the vagina.

During menopause, there is reduction in the level of estrogen making the covering of the vagina to atrophy and become thin. Also, the pH of the vagina at this time is about 7.0 (alkaline) with reduced level of lactobacillus.

The normal color of vagina discharge is white though can be yellow on contact with air. In addition, before ovulation vaginal discharge is watery while after ovulation vaginal discharge is thick white.

There is a normal balance between bacteria and fungi in the vagina. Women that use broad spectrum antibiotics can kill both good and bad bacteria leading to more fungi (candida). This antibiotics will have no effects on fungi leading to fungal overgrowth and infection.


What are the sign and symptoms of candidiasis?

About 40 percent of women will show growth of candida albicans without showing any symptoms of the disease. Women who develop yeast infection will complain of the following symptoms

  • The feeling to scratch the vulva. This is due to nerve endings that are present in the vulva. Many women also complain of soreness of the vulva
  • Women with candida infection will complain of thick curdy vaginal discharge
  • Pain during sex
  • Painful urination
  • In severe cases, some women complains of swollen vulva and redness.


Is there any change to the vagina due to yeast infection?

The normal pH of the vagina is between 3.5 to 4.5. This low pH is maintained by estrogen and lactobacilli. In yeast infection the vaginal pH is normal. However, there is thick curdy white discharge from the vagina due to fungi overgrowth.


Who are at risk to develop Yeast infection?

The following conditions increase your risk to develop candidiasis.

  • Pregnancy. This is due to the reduced immunity by circulating steroids in pregnancy. Some pregnant women will show no symptoms to the disease and there is no evidence to show it will affect the baby. Also, pregnant women with yeast infection can be treated without effects on the baby.
  • High dose combine oral contraceptive (COC pill)
  • Decreased immunity or immune suppression
  • Use of broad spectrum antibiotics
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • HIV infected women


How is yeast infection diagnosed in women?

Women that experience the above symptoms with any of those risk factors will assist to make diagnosis. However, other vaginal infections like Trichomonas infection can have similar symptoms. It is therefore important to see a doctor for tests, examination and treatment.

During your clinic visits, your doctor will examine your vagina. Also, vaginal swab is used to collect sample and tested with gram stain or wet film examination. If the fungi, candida is present then treatment would be required.

Further test may be required to detect the specie in severe recurrent diseases. Candida krusei is resistant to basic treatment for candida infection.


What is the treatment of candida infection in women?

Non pregnant women who develop symptoms of yeast infection will require treatment. Also, pregnant women with candidiasis can be treated with topical antifungal drugs or cream. This is safe in pregnancy and have no effect on the baby. However, use of oral anti fungal drugs in pregnancy is not indicated.

Women on high dose estrogen combined oral contraceptive pill will be changed to low dose pill. If symptoms still persists, your doctor may decide to use progesterone only pill.

In addition, diabetic women will have their blood sugar checked. Abnormal high blood sugar is treated by your doctor.

Treatment of Yeast infection is divided into

  • Uncomplicated yeast infection
  • complicated yeast infection
  • Recurrent yeast infection


What is the treatment of uncomplicated yeast infection?

imidazole is the drug of choice while treating uncomplicated infection. It can be applied topically or taken orally. About 10 percent of women will be cured after taking these medications. Common available drugs used are miconazole, clotrimazole or nystatin cream or insert.

Example of oral imidazole is fluconazole which is given as a single dose in uncomplicated infection. However, they are not indicated in pregnant women.


How is complicated yeast infection treated?

The complicated form of candida infection is commonly seen in women with immune suppression. These include

  • Pregnant women with severe infection
  • HIV infected women
  • Diabetes mellitus

The drug of choice is the imidazole, though your doctor will extend your treatment to 2 weeks. In addition, the problems predisposing you to severe fungal infection is treated. If your blood sugar is high, blood sugar lowering drugs will be used to normalize your sugar levels. HIV women will commence highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART).


How is recurrent yeast infection treated?

Some women may experience persistent or recurrent infections. Recurrent infection is when you were diagnosed with 4 episodes of yeast infection in one year or a positive microscopy of heavy growth of candida albicans. It can be treated with use of fluconazole but for an extended time. Therapy is usually 6 month with 90 percent of women cured after treatment.


How can i prevent yeast infection?

There is no evidence to show yeast infection can be prevented. However, these will help

  • Good hygiene
  • Avoid using soap to wash your vagina.
  • Avoid synthetic underwear
  • Treat conditions that predispose to fungal infections like HIV, Diabetes melitus.
  • Consider changing to contraceptive pill
  • Be cautious with use of broad spectrum antibiotics


Frequently asked question about yeast infection

How can i get rid of a yeast infection?

The use of drugs is important to treat your yeast infection. However, preventive measure is important to prevent recurrence

Should my partner be treated?

There is no indication to treat infected partners while you have uncomplicated yeast infection

What are the symptoms of candida infection in men?

Men can develop yeast infection. Though can result to balanitis, which is inflammation of the penis.

Is yeast infection sexually transmitted?

You would want to think that but its not


Now tell us if you experience yeast infection. Share your yeast infection medicines that worked for you.

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