Vulvovaginal candidiasis – vaginal thrush
Wondering what that white curdly discharge or that recurrent itch is?
Could it be a yeast infection?
What is candidiasis?
Candidiasis is a fungal infection caused by yeasts from the family candida, which is the most common fungus to affect humans. The commonest type is candida albicans. Candida can be found in the gastrointestinal, genitourinary and respiratory tracts. In more severe cases, candida infection can be invasive and affect the whole body.
The focus of my article is on vulvovaginal candidiasis (VVC) also more commonly known as vaginal thrush. VVC is very common in women, with about ¾ of women experiencing an episode of this during their lifetime and is the second most common cause of vaginitis in women.
Approximately 5% of women experience recurrent attacks of VVC which is defined as ≥ 4 infection per year.
Symptoms of vulvovaginal candidiasis (VVC):
*Vulva refers to the external genetelia of the female, including the labia majora, labia minora, clitoris and vestibule of the vagina.
– Red swollen vagina and labia
– Severe vulva itch (pruritus)
– Vaginal discharge – thick, white, curdlike, ‘cottage-cheese’ discharge
– Pain passing urine (dysuria)
– Pain during sex (dyspareunia)
– Irritation and pain around surrounding affected area
– Obvious thickening and swelling of skin secondary to chronic scratching (lichenification)
During pregnancy, candida infection is more common. This is due to changes in hormone levels such as oestrogen.
Such as those living with AIDS, poorly controlled diabetes mellitus and receiving chemotherapy.
This is due to the inability of the body’s immune system to effectively control the spread of the candida fungus.
3. Antibiotics usage
Antibiotics are not effective against yeast infections and they can also kill good bacteria normally found in the vagina. Once this happens there is less competition facing other infections, such as candida, which means they can flourish.
The link between personal hygiene, tight fitting undergarments and candidiasis remains controversial.
Also, sexual activity is not related to candida infection and infections often occur without having sex.
Over the counter (OTC) medications are generally highly effective for treating candidiasis.
However, self-medication with OTC preparations should be advised only for women who have had prior diagnoses of VVC and who had recurrence of the same symptoms.
Should symptoms persist it is advised that you seek medical attention as incorrect or inappropriate treatment is common, which can lead to other vaginal infections.
If you think you could be suffering from VVC and have tried OTC preparations but are still having symptoms or if you are unsure of the symptoms you are experiencing, please see a doctor. VVC is very common in ladies and is an easily treatable infection.
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