Vaginal yeast infection, alternately referred to as vaginal Candidiasis or vulvovaginal Candidiasis (VVC), is a common fungal infection of the genitals causing inflammation, irritation, itching and vaginal discharge.2
Vaginal yeast infections are experienced by as many as 3 out of 4 women during their lifetime, with most women experiencing at least two or more infections.1,2
Contents of this article:
You will also see introductions at the end of some sections to any recent developments that have been covered by MNT's news stories. Also look out for links to information about related conditions. It is worth noting that we have written an alternate article about thrush in men (male candidiasis).
Fast facts on yeast infections
Here are some key points about yeast infections. More detail and supporting information is in the main article.
- Vaginal yeast infection is relatively common.
- It is a common infection that occurs when there is an overgrowth of the yeast called Candida.
- Nearly 75% of all adult women have had at least one yeast infection in their lifetime.
- On rare occasions, men may also get genital candidiasis.
- Vaginal yeast infection occurs more frequently and more severely in people with weakened immune systems.
- Women with vulvovaginal Candidiasis (VVC) usually experience genital itching, burning, and sometimes a "cottage cheese-like" vaginal discharge.
- Men with genital candidiasis may experience an itchy rash on the penis.
- Several different antifungal medications are available to treat genital candidiasis. Antifungal vaginal suppositories or creams are commonly used.
- Over-the-counter treatments for VVC are available. As a result, more women are diagnosing and treating themselves.
- It is important to be sure of the diagnosis before treating a vulvovaginal candidiasis infection with over-the-counter or other antifungal medications.
What is a yeast infection?
Common yeast infections are caused by the yeast species Candida albicans. However, there are other species of Candida, which can cause an infection and may at times require different treatments.1
Causes of a yeast infection
Balanced levels of yeast and bacteria are normally present in a woman's vagina however disturbances in this harmonious balance can lead to the development of an infection.1,2
Yeast infections are caused by the yeast species called Candida albicans.
Normally, the bacteria Lactobacillus can produce an environment not conducive to yeast overgrowth. However, at times, yeast will become dominant and cause symptoms of a yeast infection.1
Yeast infections of the vagina are not sexually transmitted diseases, however, it can be spread through oral-genital contact or during intercourse.1,2
There are certain risk factors that predispose a woman to a vaginal yeast infection and include:1,2
- Use of antibiotics and or corticosteroids
- Uncontrolled diabetes
- Being immunocompromised
- Any scenarios that can cause changes in normal vaginal flora including douching.
Symptoms of a yeast infection
Symptoms of a vulvovaginal yeast infection include:1,2
Frequent symptoms of vaginal yeast infection include itching, burning and large or small amounts of vaginal discharge, often whitish gray and thick.
- Vaginal and vulvar itching or irritation
- Vaginal burning, pain, soreness
- Vaginal burning with intercourse or urination
- Vaginal discharge resembling cottage cheese (thick and white) that is odorless.
Some women may experience a complicated yeast infection, which includes more severe symptoms and includes the presence of four or more infections in a single year.
Symptoms of a complicated yeast infection include severe redness, swelling and itching, that results in skin fissures or sores.1
There are certain medical conditions that cause a complicated yeast infection and include pregnancy, uncontrolled diabetes, being immunocompromised and the presence of an alternate Candida fungus as opposed to Candida albicans.1
On the next page we look at tests and diagnosis of a yeast infection, prevention and the available treatment options for the condition.