Vaginal Yeast Infections
Yeast-Most Women Have It
Yeast. When we think of it in terms outside of the kitchen, we immediately associate it with itch, burning, and irritation. The fungal yeast we are talking about is scientifically called Candida, and the variety of Candida that is most commonly associated with vaginitis, is Candida albicans. Yeast is usually carried on normal, healthy human skin and also in areas of the body where there is more moisture, such as the mouth and, in women, the vagina.
When the vagina becomes inflamed, the condition is called vaginitis. Most women (about 75 percent) experience vaginitis somewhere along their life journey. While vaginitis can be caused by sources outside of Candida, the most common form of vaginitis is associated with Candida and is called vaginal Candidiasis.
Sometimes the external area of a woman's genitals becomes inflamed. An inflammation of the vulva, which includes the labia, clitoris, and entryway to the vagina, is called vulvitis. As with vaginitis, there are a number of different infections that may be the source of the problem. Since the vulva often becomes inflamed at the same time as the vagina, the condition takes the name vulvovaginitis.
What Causes Yeast Infections?
Yeast infections happen when there is an overgrowth of yeast or when new yeast is introduced to the area. Antibiotics and immunosuppressant drugs can eliminate good bacteria from the body and as a result, yeast can multiply and grow, invading healthy tissues and creating irritation in the vagina.
Another cause of vaginal yeast infections can be chemotherapy, which damages the tissues, diabetes, taking oral contraceptives, and sometimes pregnancy can be a cause. Perfumed vaginal sprays and douches can trigger a yeast infection.
Yeast infections are not sexually transmitted diseases, simply because the bacteria already resides on the woman's skin and Candida is often normally present in a woman's vagina. However, a man who comes in contact with a yeast infection transmitted through sex can end up with itching and inflammation as well.
Symptoms Of A Yeast Infection
There are several different conditions that can cause the same symptoms as a yeast infection. As a result, there are no exclusive symptoms of a yeast infection that set it apart from other possible inflammatory issues. The most common symptom of a vaginal yeast infection is itching in the genital area, specifically the vaginal and vulvar regions. Other symptoms associated with a yeast infection include burning, soreness, painful intercourse and urination, and at times a thick, white discharge that looks like cottage cheese. Vulvitis can add additional pain to the above symptoms.
Diagnosis & Treatment
Diagnosing a yeast infection is done conclusively through a scrapping and examination under a microscope. There are other infections that present similarly to vaginal yeast infections, so it is important to determine that the infection is yeast. Chlamydia, bacterial vaginosis, and gonorrhea all present in a manner similar to yeast. However, they cannot be effectively treated the same way. Once the diagnosis is made, the treatment is usually quick and easy. Antifungal medications are generally used in the form of topical ointment and sometimes oral medication. Vaginal tablets are often used and are very effective. If the symptoms are there, then treatment should be given. If there are no symptoms, then treatment for yeast is not necessary and should not be administered.