Vaginal yeast infection

Vaginal yeast infections are a very common problem in women. It is difficult to know the true percentage of women affected by yeast infections; they are frequently diagnosed without an examination and many women treat themselves with over-the-counter yeast treatments before seeking medical advice. Itching of the vulva is the most common symptom of a vaginal yeast infection. Women may also note pain with urination, vulvar soreness or irritation, pain with intercourse, or reddened and swollen vulvar and vaginal tissues. There is often little or no vaginal discharge; if present, discharge is typically white and clumpy (curd-like), but may be thin and watery in some cases. Symptoms of a yeast infection are similar to a number of other conditions, including bacterial vaginosis (a bacterial infection of the vagina), trichomoniasis (a sexually transmitted infection), and contact or allergic dermatitis (a skin reaction to an irritating or allergic substance) . It is often not possible to know, based on symptoms alone, if vulvar itching is caused by yeast or other potential causes. Candida albicans is a fungus that normally lives on the skin and mucous membranes (mouth, nose, vagina); it causes most cases of vaginal yeast infections. Normally, candida causes no symptoms. However, when the skin or mucous membranes undergo changes due to medications, injury, or stress to the immune system, candida multiplies and causes the characteristic symptoms of a yeast infection, described above. In most women, there is no underlying disease or event that leads to a yeast infection. There are several risk factors that may increase the chances of developing an infection, including use of antibiotics, hormonal contraceptives and certain contraceptive devices, diabetes, pregnancy, and a weakened immune system (due to chemotherapy, HIV, or certain medications). Diagnosis of a vaginal yeast infection requires that a healthcare provider take a medical history, perform a physical examination, and perform diagnostic testing. It is important to visit the provider when symptoms are present and before any treatment is used. Women with symptoms of vulvar itching or vaginal discharge frequently assume that their symptoms are related to a yeast infection and treat themselves with an over-the-counter treatment. Incorrect self-diagnosis and treatment can delay receiving the correct diagnosis and treatment and wastes money on improper treatment, which frequently causes further irritation of the vulva and vagina. Treatment of vaginal yeast infection may include a topical cream or tablet; most are applied inside the vagina at bedtime with an applicator. Treatment durations vary; one, three, and seven- day treatments are equally effective. Oral treatment is available as fluconazole (Diflucan®) 150 mg. Most patients require only one dose.Vaginal yeast infections are not considered to be a sexually transmitted infection, though the infection can rarely be passed from one partner to another. Most experts do not currently recommend treatment of a sexual partner.