Vaginal Yeast Infection

Woman with vaginal yeast infection

Vaginal yeast infection, also known as vaginal candida infection, is caused by Candida fungi and are quite common in women.  The most common Candida species is Candida albicans however other Candida species may be involve in yeast infections.

It is estimated that up to 75% of women will have at least one vaginal yeast infection in their lifetime.

Candida albicans in known as an opportunistic fungus.  It is a normal part of the vaginal flora or microorganisms.  C. albicans tends to flourish and grow when the normal bacterial flora of the vagina is thrown out of balance.

The symptoms of Candida albicans infections of the vagina include:

  • intense itching
  • burning
  • pain
  • redness of the vulva and vaginal mucosa, making it sensitive to urine
  • thick, white, cheese-curd vaginal discharge
  • discomfort during sexual intercourse

Risk factors for getting a vaginal yeast infection include:

  • use of high-estrogen oral contraceptives
  • hormone replacement therapy
  • recent antibiotic treatments
  • diabetes mellitus, uncontrolled blood sugar levels
  • pregnancy
  • lowered immunity (HIV, immunosuppresant drugs)
  • using vaginal douches
  • corticosteroid treatment
  • hormonal imbalance due to endocrine disorders including thyroid disorders
  • stress
  • poor nutrition
  • lack of sleep
  • obesity
  • wearing clothing that promotes a hot, moist environment
  • a basic or high vaginal pH

Self contamination of the vagina with Candida fungi from the rectal passage is common.

Vaginal yeast infection is usually treated using antifungal agents.  Antifungal agents are also known as antimycotic agents.

Vaginal yeast infections caused by Candida albicans are usually quite easily treated by using azole antifungals as well as fixing modifiable risk factors such as uncontrolled blood sugar levels.

Resistant yeast infections usually involve Candida species other than Candida albicans.  These infections can often require more robust and consistent treatment.

Antifungal agents commonly used to treat vaginal Candida infections include:

  • clotrimazole (Canestan) – over-the-counter creams and vaginal tablets
  • miconazole (Monistat) – over-the-counter creams and vaginal tablets
  • tioconazole (Gynecure)
  • terconazole (Terazol) – prescription creams and vaginal tablets, usually used when other Candida species other than C. albicans are involved
  • butoconazole (Gynazole)
  • fluconazole (Diflucan) – prescription oral tablets

You may also wish to learn about vaginal odor or to learn more about bacterial vaginosis.