Yeast Infections

Infections of any kind cause discomfort or an uneasiness; they’re only made worse when the infection smells bad and is accompanied by a constant need to itch your genital area. Vaginal yeast infections are part of a group known as vaginitis which causes an inflammation of the vagina. This group of infections is characterized by vaginal irritation, strong itchiness and vaginal discharge. More commonly, vagina, yeast infections are known as vaginal candidiasis. Candida albicans is the primary cause of this infection and about 75% of women experience this at some point in their lives. Some of the symptoms do overlap with a urinary tract infection (UTI), however, there are some other factors involved as well:

  • Itching and irritation within the vagina and at the vulva
  • Burning sensation during intercourse or urination
  • Vulva appears red and swollen
  • Pain and soreness in the vagina
  • Cottage cheese appearing thick, white and odor-free vaginal discharge

These may be complicated if:

  • Symptoms are intensified
  • Recurrent yeast infections
  • Infection is other than by Candida albicans
  • Pregnancy
  • Uncontrolled diabetes mellitus
  • Immunosuppressed due to antibiotics.

Patients who experience these symptoms should seek medical attention immediately. If a patient resides in Denver, they should visit the Denver Holistic Center for more information.

Candida normally lives within your vaginal flora in symbiosis with other bacteria. When the symbiosis is disturbed, then candida grows, leading to infection. This overgrowth is caused by:

  • Antibiotic use– decrease amount of lactobacillus bacteria in the vagina, changes vaginal pH, allowing for yeast to grow
  • Pregnancy – lowered immune system response
  • Uncontrolled diabetes mellitus also a risk factor
  • Immunosuppression – HIV, coexisting disease, corticosteroid therapy
  • Any factor decreasing the amount of healthy bacteria living in the vaginal flora
  • Increased estrogen levels
  • Sexual activity.

To diagnose vaginal candidiasis a physician will do the following:

  • Ask for a full medical history
  • Perform a pelvic exam – a woman should be made aware and be prepared for this in advance
  • Send vaginal sample for testing.

After attaining the results, treatment options will be discussed:

  • Uncomplicated yeast infection
    • Short course vaginal therapy
      • Azoles
      • Antifungal cream, ointment or tablet
      • Single-dose oral medication
        • Fluconazole (Diflucan)
      • Complicated Yeast Infection
        • Longer course vaginal therapy
        • Multidose oral medication
        • Maintenance plan
          • Routine medication to not allow yeast overgrowth
          • Clotrimazole
        • Alternative medication
          • Boric acid
            • Warning – toxic to children
          • Yogurt
          • Cranberry juice.

Women should be made aware of these preventive measures:

  • Reduce, if not avoid, douching
  • Cotton underwear versus other material
  • Do not wear fitted or tight pants for prolonged periods
  • Avoid tight fitting underwear or pantyhose for prolonged periods
  • Change from wet or soaked clothes as quickly as possible
  • Regularly change underwear
  • Avoid hot tubs or hot baths to avoid recurrence.

Conclusively, there is a lot known about vaginal candidiasis now and it is easily manageable. Women should seek medical attention and be made aware of the factors causing this infection. Normally yeast infections are not a sexually transmitted infection. In our normal flora, we have certain organisms living in unison and when their nutrient supply is disturbed, so is their growth. Candidiasis is very common in the US and treated, many times, via over the counter medication.