A vaginal yeast infection is a fungal infection. The most common type of fungus to cause yeast infections is Candida albicans. It often causes symptoms such as discharge, irritation, and intense itchiness of the vagina. A vaginal yeast infection is also known as vaginal candidiasis. About three out of every four women will develop a vaginal yeast infection at some point in their lifetimes.
The symptoms of a yeast infection are usually mild to moderate. The symptoms include itching, irritation, a burning sensation, especially during intercourse or while urinating, redness and swelling of the vulva, vaginal pain and soreness, vaginal rash, watery vaginal discharge, or a thick white vaginal discharge. Some women may experience a more severe or complicated yeast infection. You may have a more complicated yeast infection if you have extensive redness, swelling and itching that leads to tears or fissures or sores, have had four or more yeast infections in a year, your infection is caused by a type of candida other than Candida albicans, you are pregnant, you have uncontrolled diabetes, or your immune system is weakened because of certain medications or conditions such as HIV infection.
What causes a yeast infection? A yeast infection is caused by a fungus called fungus candida. The most common type of fungus to cause yeast infections is Candida albicans. The vagina normally has a balance of yeast and bacteria. The lactobacillus bacteria produces acids which prevents the overgrowth of yeast. However, once that balance is disrupted, it can cause a yeast infection. An overgrowth of yeast may be caused by the use of antibiotics, which decreases lactobacillus bacteria in your vagina and changes the pH of your vagina, pregnancy, uncontrolled diabetes, an impaired immune system, or by taking oral contraceptives or hormone therapy, which increases estrogen levels.
The risk factor for developing a yeast infection include using antibiotics, increased estrogen levels, uncontrolled diabetes, an impaired immune system, or engaging in sexual activity. Yeast infections are not considered a sexually transmitted infection, however sexual contact can spread the candida fungus.
The most common treatment for a vaginal yeast infection includes antifungal medication which are available as creams, ointments, tablets and suppositories. Treatment for a vaginal yeast infection may differ depending on whether the infection is uncomplicated or complicated. Uncomplicated vaginal yeast infections may require a short course of vaginal antifungal therapy and a single dose oral medication while a complicated vaginal yeast infection may require a long course of vaginal antifungal therapy and multi-dose oral medication.