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)

 

Risk factors:

 

1.      Pregnancy

During pregnancy, candida infection is more common. This is due to changes in hormone levels such as oestrogen.

 

2.      Immunocompromised

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.

 

4.      Lifestyle

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.

 

Treatment:

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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31 Comments

  1. Joanne

    Yesterday, I had an abnormal amount of discharge. It was clear, and had a slight smell to it. Then this morning, its white little chunks, and had a fould smell. And it itches and is a little swollen. I dont know hoe to take care of it! Please help!!

  2. I’ve had thrush before about a month ago, and was successfully treated with OTC Canesten duo oral and cream. Recently my vulva has been slightly itchy (not as bad as when I had thrush) but now producing a strange discharge with white lumps/specks in it… it smells funny but I don’t know what the smell is, this didn’t happen at all when I had thrush. What could it be? It only itches sometimes during the day and is fine at other times, not like a constant thing like thrush was. I also recently had unprotected sex with my bf but this was after the white lumps started appearing in my discharge. Help!

    • It certainly sounds like you could have caught some kind of infection. You should see your doctor for swab tests to find out what this infection it. Certain infections if left untreated for too long may lead to complications.

  3. Hi umm I ha sex for the first time on February 5 I had I hard doggie style an the normal way everything was fine an on February 17 I noticed thick codege (sorry I’m not a good speller) Cheese no Oder but the next day I used something for yeast infections an two hrs later it there was blood not like period blood but it’s not a little a mount I have symptoms of yeast infections but the bleeding part scares me wats wrong with me

    • The bleeding could very well be secondary to the yeast infection. Yeast infection can make the vaginal lining very fragile and therefore bleed easier. However, there are also other possible causes like a torn hymen. You should see your doctor if the bleeding worsens or persists.

  4. I have had thick white discharge for years, it is not itching, I have no irritation but I hate it I use my finger to clean it every day. Is it normal?

    • It may or may not be. The fact that you do not have any other symptoms is a good sign that it is probably normal. The best thing for you to do is to see a doctor and get a vaginal swab test done. This way, you can know for sure if it is normal or not.

  5. My wife complains that her period comes and ends within a 5 days window which is too short in her opinion and claimes that her health or her vaginal is very unhealthy is that true?

  6. Tnks doc,am rily grateful. its in my vaginal cos I observed that it has stopped afta taking the parlodel. if the coming of milk is stopped by parlodel,wat if it has lasted for sm years before treatment.

    • Hi mercy, Im sorry I don’t quite understand your latest question. If you could, perhaps it might be easier to come in to clinic to discuss it with our doctors – we’d be happy to help answer any of your questions.

  7. what’s the work of parlodel? does it stop inching infections as well?

    • Hello mercy, thanks for your question.
      Parlodel is used to reduce excessive milk production from breasts. As for the “itching infection” that you referred to, could you tell us the site of the itching?

  8. Samantha briseno

    How is candida treated? Is there any hime remedies i can do ? Or any over the counter meds? Please help

    • Hi, you can try over the counter medications from the pharmacy. Otherwise, please see a doctor for further treatment of candida.

  9. Samantha briseno

    How is candida treated? Is the any home remedes i can use ir over the counter meds?

  10. I think i have candidiasis. Past few days I’ve had this vaginal itch and small amount this whitish cheesy discharge. If i were to go for treatment, how much would it roughly cost?

    • Hi, sounds like you have candidiasis. It is difficult to assess the cost as the length and type of treatment varies from patient to patient. Feel free to visit our clinics for more accurate assessment and we can tailor the treatment plan more specific for you.

  11. actually i have only one symptom which is this white cheese-y discharge sometimes .. what about it ?

    • Sounds a whole lot like a vaginal fungal infection. You can try OTC anti-fungal treatments for it first and see your doctor if it persists.

      • I have this yellowish thick discharge with bad odor and I feel sometimes itching.. is it infection or std? pls reply. I badly want to end this :/

        • It definitely sounds like some sort of infection. It could very well be an STD (which by definition is also an infection that is why sometimes it is also called STI – sexually transmitted infection). Really the only way for you to be sure is to see a doctor and get some tests done.

  12. Ive been having prob down there for almost a week. Its itchy, hurts during pee n also burns.
    im worried n dnt know what to do
    white discharge also present sometimes, but no smell, just itchy

  13. Ok I’m at a young age of 14 and I am still a virgin, but on my vaginal lips I have red small bumps everywhere and they itch a lot sometimes it lasts for hours and itiching it doesn’t help the skin is very rough and I think I may have a fatty tumor next to my clit and it is a pretty desent size under the skin but I am also having thick white clumpy discharge. I’m worried something is wrong but being at a young age I’m nervous to tell a doctor in person and I don’t know what to do about it so please answer me as soon as possible.

    • Certainly sounds like a yeast infection. Go visit your local pharmacy and ask them for an anti-fungal cream. Try this for a few days. If it does not work, you really should see a doctor.

  14. my doctor give me miconazole nitrate but it been itch for 2month

  15. I am curious if yeast could cause irritation/weakening of the skin around the bottom of the vagina opening – I think its called the anterior fourchette.

    My girlfriend has the area irritated or sometimes even having micro tears during and after sex, causing her to feel sore if it goes on too long. She does expresses some curd-like discharge sometimes, and sporadic itching around that area sometimes depending on her cycle.

    I am trying to convince her to see a OBGYN, but she is contend with using oral medication and creams on demand. Sounds like yeast?

    • Dr Elaine Loh

      from your description, symptoms that she is experiencing is suggestive of candidiasis and if left untreated this is lead to infection to partner as well. However, there are may be other causes of her symptoms for example BV or trichomoniasis and this is only be confirmed through a vaginal examination and swab. I would suggest your partner to seek the doctor for a proper evaluation and treatment.

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