Vulvovaginal Candidiasis

Vulvovaginal Candidiasis

Vulvovaginal candidiasis (VVC), more commonly known as a yeast infection, is a common fungal infection that affects up to 75% of women at some point in their lifetime. It is usually caused by the fungus Candida albicans which lives in small amounts in the vagina, mouth and digestive tract.

Signs and Symptoms of Vulvovaginal Candidiasis

Symptoms of VVC may include itching or a burning sensation in the vulva, redness and swelling, and thick white discharge, which may have a thick, clotted, curd-like texture. Painful urination is also common. Other symptoms may include pain during intercourse, abdominal pain, and fever if the infection has spread to other parts of the body.

Causes of Vulvovaginal Candidiasis

VVC is often caused by a change in the balance of bacteria and yeast in the vagina, which can be caused by a number of factors, including:

  • Antibiotic use
  • Uncontrolled diabetes
  • Hormonal changes, such as those during pregnancy, breastfeeding or menopause
  • Uncontrolled HIV infection
  • Stress
  • Poor hygiene/bathing habits
  • Weakened immune system
  • Wearing tight-fitting clothing or undergarments
  • Perfumed soaps, lotions, douches, and other hygiene products

Treating Vulvovaginal Candidiasis

Treatment for VVC usually includes the use of antifungal drugs, such as miconazole or clotrimazole, which can be applied directly to the affected area. Oral antifungal medications can also be used in more severe cases. Home remedies, such as yogurt or garlic, may be tried, though they have not been proven to be effective. Other treatments may include increasing vaginal acidity, changing underwear or clothing regularly, avoiding excessive moisture in the genital area, and avoiding the use of perfumed soaps, scented douches and other hygiene products.

Preventing Vulvovaginal Candidiasis

Preventing a VVC infection may include avoiding risk factors, such as tight-fitting clothing, scented hygiene products, douching, and antibiotics if possible. Other tips to reduce the risk of infection include wearing cotton underwear, avoiding hot baths or tubs, drying off quickly after showers and baths, and taking probiotics. It is also important to practice good hygiene, including washing the genital area regularly with water and a mild soap.