Candida Vulvovaginitis

What is candida vulvovaginitis?

Candida vulvovaginitis, also known as vaginal thrush or a vaginal yeast infection, is a common infection of the vulva and vagina caused by a fungal yeast called candida. Candida is normally present in small amounts on the body but, under certain circumstances, it can overgrow, causing an infection. It is not normally a sexual transmitted infection, but can sometimes be passed between sexual partners. Main symptoms include vulval itchiness, pain during sexual intercourse and vaginal discharge. Thrush can be easily treated with over-the-counter medications. It can reoccur, especially at times of stress, or in people who have diabetes or immune system disorders.

Risks

This condition is caused by a yeast, candida albicans, which normally lives on the body. Under certain circumstances, candida can overgrow and cause a troublesome infection. This is a very common condition in adult women, but can affect females of all ages. Though it is not considered a sexual transmitted infection (STI), it is more common in people who are sexually active. Other risk factors include the use of antibiotics, pregnancy, a weakened immune system and diabetes. Some people find that humid, warm climate conditions make them more susceptible to this condition.

Symptoms

The most common symptoms of this condition are itchiness and burning of the vulva and vagina and a thick, clumpy, white discharge. Some people also experience pain or discomfort during urination or sexual intercourse.

Diagnosis

The diagnosis is usually based on the symptoms and physical examination. If the diagnosis is uncertain, a sample of the vaginal discharge may be taken and investigated for the yeast.

Treatment

Treatment consists of anti-fungal medication, which can be applied as a cream to the vulva, as a pessary in the vagina, or taken in tablet form. Although many people find tablets convenient, the creams and pessaries are often soothing to the itchy, sore skin.

Prevention

Avoiding underwear which traps heat and moisture can help to prevent this condition, especially in humid climates. Avoiding the use of antibiotic tablets if another preparation is appropriate (such as an antibiotic cream or ointment) may also be helpful. Maintaining good blood sugar control also helps to prevent this condition from developing in diabetic people.

Other names for candida vulvovaginitis

  • vaginal thrush
  • candida vaginitis
  • vaginal yeast infection
  • vulvovaginal yeast infection
  • thrush
  • vulval candidiasis