What is vaginal candidiasis?

Vaginal candidiasis is an infection of the vagina involving overgrowth of a yeast, or fungus, known as Candida. This yeast is normally present in the mouth, gut and vagina, as are a number of other organisms. If the balance of microorganisms is disrupted, as can occur with taking broad spectrum antibiotics, hormonal fluctuations, and other conditions, an overgrowth of yeast can occur. Vaginal candidiasis, often referred to as a "yeast infection," is a common problem, affecting nearly 75% of adult women in their lifetime (Source: CDC).

Itching and a thick, white discharge are the most common symptoms of vaginal candidiasis. It can also make sexual intercourse and urination painful. The external tissue around the vagina, the vulva, may become red and swollen.

Vaginal candidiasis can be treated with a variety of antifungal agents, some of which are available over-the-counter. Although the only way to unambiguously diagnose vaginal candidiasis is to see the yeast under the microscope, many women treat themselves based on their symptoms. Studies suggest that, of all the purchases of over-the-counter yeast treatments, as many as two-thirds are used by women who do not have vaginal candidiasis (Source: CDC).

Appropriate treatment usually results in a resolution of the symptoms. If symptoms remain or recur, it may signify that another condition is present or that the yeast has become resistant to the treatment that was used.

Vaginal candidiasis is rarely associated with a medical emergency; however, symptoms similar to those that occur with vaginal candidiasis can be present with other, more serious conditions. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) for high fever (higher than 101 degrees Fahrenheit), severe pelvic or abdominal pain, persistent nausea and vomiting, or bleeding while pregnant.

If you have symptoms of vaginal candidiasis, but have never had it before, or if you have a fever or have persistent or recurrent symptoms despite treatment, seek prompt medical care.Women who have symptoms of vaginal candidiasis and are pregnant or are worried about sexually transmitted infections should also seek prompt medical care.

SYMPTOMS

What are the symptoms of vaginal candidiasis?

Women who have vaginal candidiasis may experience itching and a thick, white discharge. They may notice redness and swelling around the vagina and may experience pain with urination or intercourse. The intensity of symptoms can vary from person to person.... Read more about vaginal candidiasissymptoms

CAUSES

What causes vaginal candidiasis?

Vaginal candidiasis is most commonly caused by Candida albicans, a type of yeast, or fungus, that is normally present in the mouth, gut and vagina. It can occasionally be caused by other species of Candida.... Read more about vaginal candidiasiscauses

TREATMENTS

How is vaginal candidiasis treated?

Vaginal candidiasis is treated with antifungal medications. Several are available in the form of creams, suppositories and tablets that can be placed directly in the vagina. Some are available over-the-counter, while others require a prescription.... Read more about vaginal candidiasistreatments

Medical Reviewer: All content has been reviewed by board-certified physicians under the direction of Rich Klasco, M.D., FACEP. Last Annual Review Date: May 2, 2011 Copyright: © Copyright 2011 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.