• Maria-Helena Loik

Vaginal Yeast Infection in Women – Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Updated: Apr 15, 2019

Vaginal yeast infections are very common. It’s estimated that 75% of all women will have at least one in her lifetime, and 40%-45% will have multiple cases.

A vaginal yeast infection (sometimes referred to as, vaginal candidiasis yeast vaginitis, Candidal vaginitis, or Candidal vulvovaginitis) is an infection caused by yeast called Candida.

Yeast infections, or candidiasis, can affect other areas of the body:

In this article we focus on a vaginal yeast infection symptoms, causes and home treatment.

healthy vagina contains bacteria and some yeast cells.

Candida species can be present in healthy women in the vagina without causing any symptoms. In fact, it is estimated that 20% to 50% of women have Candida already present in the vagina.

The hormone estrogen helps bacteria called Lactobacilli to grow. These bacteria kill harmful organisms in the vagina and keep you healthy.

But when something happens to tip that balance, a fungus called Candida can grow out of control and cause a yeast infection. This overgrowth triggers irritation, inflammation, itching, and painful discharge.

While yeast can be spread by sexual contact, vaginal yeast infection is not considered to be a sexually-transmitted disease (STD) because it can also occur in women who are not sexually active, due to the fact that yeast can be present in the vagina of healthy women. But you should be aware that once you get a yeast infection, you’re also more likely to get another one.

Treating a vaginal yeast infection can relieve symptoms within a few days. In more severe cases, it may take up to two weeks.

There are multiple ways to try to treat a yeast infection, home remedies, over-the-counter (OTC) medications and prescription medications. Some of these remedies use ingredients that you might already have in your home.

Their effectiveness varies, and evidence for their success is mostly anecdotal. Keep reading to find out about some popular home remedies for yeast infections.

What are the signs and symptoms of a vaginal yeast infection?

The symptoms of a vaginal yeast infection are similar among affected women, however, they are not all specific. Some women may experience symptoms of yeast infection such as:

1. An intense itching of the vaginal or genital area

2. Irritation and burning of the vagina or vulva in women

3. Swelling around the vagina

4. Soreness of the vagina or vulva in women

5. Redness of the vagina or vulva in women

6. Rash

7. Pain during sexual intercourse

8. Pain or burning during urination

9. Vaginal discharge that is typically:

  • thick;

  • odorless;

  • whitish-gray in color;

  • consistency similar to cottage cheese;

  • or sometimes the discharge may also be watery.

Usually the length of time your yeast infection is left untreated has a direct impact on how severe your symptoms may become.

What causes a vaginal yeast infection?

The fungus Candida is a naturally occurring microorganism in the vaginal area. Lactobacillus bacteria keeps its growth in check.

But if there’s an imbalance in your system, these bacteria won’t work effectively. This leads to an overgrowth of yeast, which causes the symptoms of vaginal yeast infections.

There are many reasons you could get a yeast infection, including:

1. Antibiotics (they decrease the amount of Lactobacillus (“good bacteria”) in the vagina). These drugs can kill off many of the bacteria that live in your vagina. Taking antibiotics for any reason can alter the normal bacterial populations in the vagina and predispose to the overgrowth of yeast.

2. Diabetes. If your diabetes is not well-controlled, the increase in sugar in the mucus membranes (moist linings) of your vagina can create a place for yeast to grow.

3. Hormones. Changes during:

4. A weakened immune system:

  • If you are HIV-positive or have another immune system disorder, the yeast may also grow uncontrolled.

  • Also, women with suppressed immune systems (for example, those taking cortisone-related medications such as prednisone) develop vaginal yeast infections more frequently than women with normal immunity.

  • Weakened immune system can be also a result of several reasons including your diet, lack of nutrients, stress, lack of sleep etc.

5. Sex. Though a vaginal yeast infection is not considered a true sexually transmitted disease (STD), since Candida may be present in the normal vagina, and it can occur in women who are not sexually active, it can be passed from person to person through sexual contact. So, it is possible for men to develop symptoms of skin irritation of the penis from a yeast infection after sexual intercourse with woman and infect also the next person.

6. Poor eating habits. Including a lot of sugary foods and white bread

7. Stress

8. Lack of sleep

9. Taking oral contraceptives

10. Injury. Vaginal yeast infections can also occur as a result of injury to the inner vagina, such as after chemotherapy.

11. Douches and vaginal sprays. The use of these products can change the balance in your vagina. The use of douches or perfumed vaginal hygiene sprays may also increase a woman’s risk of developing a vaginal yeast infection.

How are vaginal yeast infections diagnosed?