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Vaginal Yeast Infection and Candidiasis Symptoms

Vaginal Yeast Infection and Candidiasis Symptoms | Juohco Global Health

What Is a Vaginal Yeast Infection?

The human body is home to millions of yeast organisms, many of which are considered “good” as far as our health is concerned. Vaginal yeast infections (also known as vaginal candidiasis, vulvovaginal candidiasis or candidal vulvovaginitis) are caused by the candid fungus. They are a type of vaginitis, which means inflammation or infection of the vagina. Vaginal yeast infections that keep coming back are known as recurrent vulvovaginal candidiasis (RVVC). While there are a number of different health conditions that are categorized together under the broad term of vaginitis (including bacterial vaginosis, trichomoniasis and non-infectious vaginitis), vaginal yeast infections are the most common type.

Some women struggle with chronic vulvar pain known as vulvodynia. While this condition can be aggravated by yeast infections, and is sometimes mistaken for a yeast infection, it is a different condition that causes redness and burning of the vulva. The cause of vulvodynia is not well-understood, but there are treatment options available.

A vaginal yeast infection is a fungal infection that causes irritation, discharge and intense itchiness of the vagina and the vulva — the tissues at the vaginal opening.

Also called vaginal candidiasis, vaginal yeast infection affects up to 3 out of 4 women at some point in their lifetimes. Many women experience at least two episodes.

A vaginal yeast infection isn’t considered a sexually transmitted infection. But, there’s an increased risk of vaginal yeast infection at the time of first regular sexual activity. There’s also some evidence that infections may be linked to mouth to genital contact (oral-genital sex).

Medications can effectively treat vaginal yeast infections. If you have recurrent yeast infections — four or more within a year — you may need a longer treatment course and a maintenance plan.

Symptoms

Yeast infection symptoms can range from mild to moderate, and include:

  • Itching and irritation in the vagina and vulva
  • A burning sensation, especially during intercourse or while urinating
  • Redness and swelling of the vulva
  • Vaginal pain and soreness
  • Vaginal rash
  • Thick, white, odor-free vaginal discharge with a cottage cheese appearance
  • Watery vaginal discharge

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Complicated yeast infection

You might have a complicated yeast infection if:

  • You have severe signs and symptoms, such as extensive redness, swelling and itching that leads to tears, cracks or sores
  • You have four or more yeast infections in a year
  • Your infection is caused by a less typical type of fungus
  • You’re pregnant
  • You have uncontrolled diabetes
  • Your immune system is weakened because of certain medications or conditions such as HIV infection


Vaginal Yeast Infection Symptoms

Yeast infections of all kinds tend to develop in areas of the body where conditions are most favorable for yeast and mold to reproduce easily. Yeast and fungus thrive in moist conditions, so damp “folds” of the body (think areas where you sweat a lot) are usually more prone to infections and outbreaks, including:

  • the mouth and throat
  • genitals
  • armpits
  • anal area
  • navel (belly button)
  • nasal cavity and around the nose
  • within the ears
  • fingernails and toenails
  • in between fingers and toes
  • digestive tract

When yeast overgrows in the vagina, symptoms of a vaginal yeast infection can develop, including:

  • vaginal itching (sometimes very uncomfortable and severe)
  • vaginal discharge that’s white, thick, clumpy and odorless (while not pleasant to visualize, some people describe it as looking like cottage or ricotta cheese)
  • irritated skin around the opening to the vagina (vulva and labia), redness and swelling
  • slight bleeding
  • vaginal pain, especially during intercourse or during menstruation
  • pain when going to the bathroom or when urinating
  • sometimes a slight smell that’s unusual

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Usually, yeast infections are obvious and somewhat uncomfortable, especially if left untreated, and the symptoms continue to worsen. However, some people don’t realize they have a vaginal yeast infection or mistake it for another problem, like a urinary tract infection, side effects from birth control pillsor irregular periods, or a sexually transmitted disease, for example.

When candida yeast multiplies, it’s capable of spreading to different parts of the body and causing all types of problems. Just like you can experience a vaginal yeast infection caused by overgrowth of Candida albicans in the genitals, “candida virus” can take over your digestive system too. This is like a form of an internal digestive yeast infection and causes symptoms such as fatigue, digestive upset, changes in appetite or food cravings.

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