Vaginal Yeast Infections: Causes, Diagnosis and Treatments

Vaginal yeast infections, also known as candidiasis, are a quite common occurrence among women. In order to clarify all possible confusion, it’s important to put emphasis on the fact that every healthy vagina contains bacteria and some yeast cells at all times. But trouble comes knocking at the door when the balance of bacteria and yeast is disturbed. This leads to the multiplication of yeast cells that in turn causes a number of uncomfortable symptoms.

The good news is that this is not a dangerous type of infection in and of itself and the symptoms can go away as quickly as in a few days if treated on time and properly. If the case is more severe, the woman might need to wait up to 2 weeks.
Another aspect that’s in a way a relief regarding this type of infections is that they aren’t considered a sexually transmitted type of infection (STI) or a sexually transmitted disease (STD). This doesn’t eliminate the possibility for spreading through sexual contact, but women who aren’t sexually active also get them.

As mentioned above, vaginal yeast infections come with a quite uncomfortable set of symptoms that includes the following:

  • vaginal itching
  • swelling in the affected area
  • burning sensation during urination and sex (even pain can be felt during sex)
  • soreness
  • redness
  • the appearance of a rash

The most obvious symptom of such yeast infections is the presence of a whitish-gray and clumpy vaginal discharge. Many associate this discharge with the look of cottage cheese. In some cases, the discharge is not clumpy, but watery. For how long will the vaginal yeast infection exhibit symptoms depends on how long it will be left untreated. 

More Details on What Exactly Causes Vaginal Yeast Infections

The fungus called Candida is a completely naturally occurring microorganism that is always present in the vaginal area and lactobacillus bacteria keeps its growth in check. However, when there’s an imbalance in the organism, these bacteria can’t do their job properly and that is what leads to an overgrowth of yeast.

Here are some of the most common factors for these infections:

  • The use of antibiotics (because they decrease the amount of Lactobacillus (“good bacteria”) present in the vagina
  • Pregnancy
  • Diabetes that is not treated properly
  • Weakened immune system
  • Unhealthy eating habits that include an abundance of sugary foods
  • Hormonal imbalance
  • Stress
  • Inconsistent sleep routine or sleep deprivation 

How are There Infections Diagnosed?

Providing your doctor with proper medical history is always required. The most important questions he/she may ask is if you’ve had yeast infections or an STD before. Next, the doctor will perform a pelvic exam. This means that he/she will examine your vaginal walls and cervix and the surrounding area. Depending on the observation, the doctor then may need to collect some cells from the vagina so that lab examination can be performed. This step is necessary when a woman has yeast infections on a regular basis and it seems as if they won’t go away.

How are These Infections Treated?

Due to the fact that each yeast infection is different, the doctor will suggest a treatment accordingly based on the severity of the symptoms. Simple yeast infections are treated with 1-to-3-day regimen that includes using an antifungal cream, ointment, tablet, or suppository. There are also some natural remedies for vaginal yeast infections, but it is always better to consult a doctor prior to any decision.

The most common medications are: fluconazole (Diflucan), clotrimazole (Lotrimin), butoconazole (Gynazole), miconazole (Monistat) and terconazole (Terazol).
If the case is more severe, the treatment will last for 14 days during which the woman will need to use cream, 
ointment, tablet, or suppository vaginal treatment. In addition to this, the doctor will prescribe two or three doses of fluconazole (Diflucan), long-term prescription of fluconazole that she’ll have to take once a week for 6 weeks or long-term use of some topical antifungal medication.