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What is Candida Vaginitis?

By D. Jeffress
Updated May 17, 2024
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Candida vaginitis is the medical term for a vaginal yeast infection. It is a very common condition that may cause itching, burning, soreness, and other uncomfortable symptoms. Most cases of Candida vaginitis can be cured with over-the-counter topical creams or single-dose prescription drugs. If symptoms are severe or persist after treatment, it is important to visit a doctor to receive a thorough physical exam and learn about other treatment options. A physician can also explain preventive strategies to reduce the chances of recurring Candida vaginitis episodes.

Several different species of fungus can cause yeast infections, but the vast majority of cases are caused by Candida albicans. In most women, Candida albicans colonies naturally thrive in the digestive and reproductive tracts without causing health problems. Candida vaginitis typically develops when the normal balance of bacteria and other pathogens in the body is changed, as can occur when taking antibiotics for another condition. With fewer bacteria in the body, Candida albicans flourishes and overwhelms the immune system. Yeast infections are more likely to develop in pregnant women and people who have weakened immune systems, diabetes, or weight issues.

The symptoms of a vaginal yeast infection may include itchiness inside the vagina and along the vulva, burning during urination or intercourse, and slight redness and swelling of the genitals. Some women with severe infections experience a thick white or yellow discharge. The genitals may be tender to the touch or cause constant aches. It is possible for infectious yeast to spread from the vagina to other parts of the body if treatment is not sought, resulting in more serious symptoms such as fatigue and full-body aches.

Women who have had Candida vaginitis before and are certain that their current symptoms are caused by yeast can usually treat themselves at home. Most pharmacies carry over-the-counter creams and suppositories containing antifungal medicine that can clear up an infection within two weeks. Home remedies such as taking warm baths, wearing breathable clothing, and opting for pads instead of tampons during menstruation can help relieve symptoms and prevent recurring infections.

If a woman is experiencing problems for the first time or her symptoms are especially severe, she should probably see a doctor. A gynecologist can inspect the vagina and collect a sample of discharge fluid to confirm the presence of Candida albicans. He or she may recommend an over-the-counter product or prescribe a higher-strength oral medication. Even severe yeast infections generally respond well to treatment and clear up completely in one or two months.

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