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Yeast Infection: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Yeast infection, also known as candidiasis, is a widespread female condition, which is experienced by three out of every four women at a certain point of their lives. It is a kind of vaginitis characterized by vaginal irritation, itching and intense vaginal discharge.

Most yeast infections are incited by fungus Candida albicans. Sometimes a different type of Candida fungi may produce symptoms. These fungi normally live in vagina in small numbers along with numerous other bacteria, including Lactobacillus acidophilus, which help keep yeast under control. However, if there is imbalance of these microorganisms in the body, yeast can grow too much and cause discomfort. The imbalance that leads to yeast overgrowth can happen due to:

  • antibiotics, which can lower the amount of good bacteria in the body;
  • weak immune system,
  • HIV infection,
  • uncontrolled diabetes;
  • hormonal imbalance near the menstrual cycle;
  • high estrogen levels associated with pregnancy or hormone therapy;
  • stress and lack of sleep.

Yeast infection can be transmitted through sexual contact, though it is not considered a sexually-transmitted disease, as it may affect not sexually active women due to the natural presence of candida fungi in the vagina.

  As a rule the longer yeast infection is left untreated, the more severe its symptoms are. The most frequent symptoms include:

  • itching or soreness in the vagina and at the entrance to the vagina;
  • a burning sensation during urination or sexual intercourse;
  • swelling and redness of the vulva;
  • vaginal pain;
  • clumpy, white, odorless cottage cheese-like discharge.

These symptoms are more likely to occur or worsen during the week before the menstrual period.  Although they can bother a lot, they are usually not serious and the treatment is simple.

Mild to moderate symptoms as well as infrequent episodes are treated with: either one-time application or 1 to 3 days regimen of antifungal cream, ointment or suppository of azole antifungal agents; single dose oral medications containing triazole antifungal agents as Fluconazole or Diflucan.

Treatment of severe symptoms, such as severe redness, itching and swelling that leads to sores and tears in vaginal tissue, recurrent infection or infection incited by Candida other than albicans may involve: a two-week vaginal therapy with azole creams, tablet, ointment or suppository; 2 or 3 oral doses of Fluconazole or long-term prescription of Diflucan, once weekly for 6 weeks.

In general, the sexual partner doesn’t need to be treated, unless the yeast infection is recurrent or manifests in the male partner, for example in the form of jock itch.

If you have already been diagnosed with the yeast infection earlier and can recognize its symptoms, you can treat on your own with OTC drugs. If you experience symptoms for the first time, it is better to consult a gynecologist as it is easy to guess wrong about your vaginal infection.

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