Symptoms and Causes of Vaginal Yeast Infection

Vaginal yeast infection is a common medical problem faced by most women and it is estimated that three fourth women suffer from vaginal yeast infection in their life time and some women suffer more than once. In most of the cases of vaginal yeast infection, treatment is simple and very effective, unless you have recurrent infection (usually for or more times a year).

Vaginal yeast infection is inflammation of vaginal mucosa (vaginitis), a medical condition that causes vaginal discharge, severe itching and irritation. Vaginal yeast infection may also involve vulva (the opening of vagina).

What are the symptoms of vaginal yeast infection?

Symptoms of vaginal yeast infection may be mild or may be very troublesome and severe. Symptoms may range from simple vaginal discharge to severely pruritic condition.

  • Itching in vagina and vulva, which may be severe.
  • Vaginal discharge, which is white in color (thick and cottage cheese like consistency), usually odorless.
  • Irritation, redness and swelling in vulva.
  • Burning sensation during urination and sexual intercourse.
  • Pain in vagina.

What are the causes of vaginal yeast infection?

Vaginal yeast infection is caused by fungi called candida (candida albicans is the commonest to cause vaginal yeast infection, although sometimes other types of candida may also cause vaginal yeast infection). Vaginal flora normally contains yeast (candida) and different bacteria (e.g. Lactobacillus) and a balance is maintained in between the bacteria and fungus. But in some conditions there may be excess growth of fungi (candida) of vaginal flora, which leads to vaginal yeast infection. The excess number of yeast may be due to:

  • Over enthusiastic use of certain antibiotics (use of antibiotics reduces the number of bacterial flora present in vagina, especially lactobacillus, which leads to overgrowth of yeast/fungi). Lactobacillus keeps the growth of yeast under control by reducing pH of vagina by producing acid.
  • Impaired immunity.
  • Pregnancy, uncontrolled diabetes etc. may predispose overgrowth of fungus.
  • Any condition which may disturb the balance between fungi and bacteria in vagina, e.g. irritation from inadequate vaginal lubrication.

Vaginal yeast infection is not considered to be an STD (sexually transmitted disease) because causative microorganisms (candida albicans) are normally present in vagina and vaginal yeast infection can occur in celibate women also. But it can be transmitted by sexual contact (oral-genital sexual contact).

 




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