Candidiasis: Causes, Symptoms and Prevention

Candidiasis which can also be referred to as vaginal yeast infection is caused as a result of a fungus which tends to cause irritation to the vaginal folds which are also known as the labia, the tissues around the opening of the vagina often referred to as the vulva.

This infection causes severe itching and discharges which is often experienced around the vagina. Researchers have shown that about 3 to 4 women out of a total of 5 women have experienced this disease or at some point in their lives will experience it.

More than 50% of women are likely to have at least two episodes during their lifetime. Generally, vagina yeast infection is not always considered as a sexually transmitted infection, however, there is always an increased risk of exposure to vaginal yeast when a person has any sexual encounter.

Some research has also proven that this infection is mostly transmitted via oral-genital sex (oral sex). However, what exactly causes this infection?

Causes

There is a particular type of fungus that is named fungus Albicans. This type of fungus is usually the culprit that is responsible for the majority of the vaginal yeast infections that women experience.

Naturally, your vagina contains some forms of microorganisms. These microorganisms include bacteria, fungus, yeast, Candida etc. This microorganisms, however, do not cause any harm as long as they are in a balanced healthy proportion.

In fact, a certain type of bacteria which is known as lactobacillus is present within the vagina and the presence of this bacteria helps to prevent the overgrowth of yeast within the vaginal tract.

However, in some cases, this delicate balance within the vagina can be disrupted and as such start to cause problems for the woman.

There can be an overgrowth of these bacteria and when there is an overgrowth of Candida or when the fungus appears to begin to penetrate deeper into the lining of the vaginal wall, there is a tendency for the woman to develop vaginal yeast infection also known as candidiasis.

There are so many things that can cause the overgrowth to occur and they include:

  1. The excessive use of antibiotics which can, in turn, cause an imbalance in the ratio of vaginal microorganisms hence disrupting the natural vaginal flora.
  2. Pregnancy: The number of hormones released by the body during pregnancy can cause the balance to be disrupted hence causing candidiasis.
  3. Uncontrolled diabetes: yeast has been seen to grow in an environment that has an increased level of sweetness and when you have uncontrolled diabetes, there is a tendency for there to be an overgrowth of Candida.
  4. A weak immune system: Having a weak immune system puts you at risk of developing a lot of diseases and yeast Candida is not exempted.
  5. The use of oral contraceptives or the use of hormone therapy in order to increase your estrogen levels will put you at a higher risk of developing yeast, Candida.

Although Candida albicans is mostly the common culprit that causes candidiasis, however, yeast infections can also be caused by some other types of fungus which are most likely difficult to treat and as such, you may need a more radical approach to treating them.

Symptoms of candidiasis

Candidiasis

The symptoms of vaginal candidiasis vary and its variety depends on the severity of the disease. This means that depending on how mild or Severe the disease is, the Symptoms will most likely differ.

For mild to moderate infections, the Symptoms you would likely experience are as follows:

  1. Severe itching and irritation of both the vulva and the vagina.
  2. Burning sensation during urination or sexual intercourse.
  3. Inflammation and redness of the vulva.
  4. Intense pain and soreness of the vagina.
  5. Vaginal rash.
  6. Vaginal discharges that can sometimes be thick, white and odour free or have the appearance of cottage cheese.
  7. Vaginal discharge can be watery in nature.

However, for more severe infections or complicated candidiasis, you will most likely experience the following symptoms

  1. Intense itching, inflammation and redness that can cause the woman to begin to experience sores, cracks or tears of the vaginal walls
  2. Repeatedly occurring yeast infections. This means that if you discover that you have this infection about four or five times a year, then you have a severe recurrent form of vaginal yeast infection
  3. Your infection may likely not be caused by fungus Albicans. It may be caused by some other type of fungus which may likely be difficult to treat
  4. Pregnancy
  5. If you have severe uncontrolled diabetes
  6. The weakened immune system which may be caused by the presence of another infection, the use of some particular drugs and medications or an underlying medical condition such as the infection of HIV

Risk factors

There are some factors that will likely put you at an increased risk of getting this infection and these factors include:

The excessive use of antibiotics

Research has shown that most vaginal infections especially infections which are caused by yeast are more common in women who are fond of taking antibiotics. The use of antibiotics is to kill bacteria and these can be very dangerous.

This is because as these antibiotics kill the harmful bacteria, they will also kill the healthy bacteria which is present within your vaginal tract and this can leave you wide open for the overgrowth of yeast to take place.

Increased levels of oestrogen

It should be noted that women who have an increased level of estrogen within their body system are dangerously at risk of developing this infection.

Medications such as hormone therapy or oral contraceptives can cause a surge of your estrogen levels and increase your tendency of developing candidiasis.

Women who are also pregnant will experience an increase in their oestrogen levels and this also puts them at risk.

Uncontrolled diabetes

Women who have diabetes and have a lack of control of their blood sugar have an increased tendency of catching this infection than women who have a healthy blood sugar level.

Weakened immune system

Women who have a weakened immune system due to either the use of some drugs such as corticosteroids or have HIV infection are most likely to develop this infection.

Prevention

In order to avoid the development of this infection, women are advised to do the following:

  1. Always wear underwear that is cotton and is not tightly fitted.
  2. Avoid wearing tight-fitting pantyhose.
  3. Do not douche. Douching causes you to wash off some the healthy bacteria within the vagina and as such, this will cause you to begin to develop an overgrowth of yeast infections.
  4. Avoid using female products which are often scented. Avoid the use of bubble baths, tampons as well as pads. Restricts their uses to only when necessary.
  5. Avoid using antibiotics unnecessarily. If you do have a cold or infections that are viral in nature, be careful of the drugs given to you for treatment.
  6. Avoid staying or wearing wet clothes all the time for long periods.

Sources:

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