Overview – What is it?
Genital candidiasis, also known as genital yeast infection, is a fungal infection of the genitals that commonly affects women. Some of the factors that increase the risk of genital candidiasis are using antibiotics frequently, wearing very tight clothing, and not practising good personal hygiene. This infection can cause itching, irritation and vaginal discharge.
The diagnosis of genital candidiasis is done by testing a sample of vaginal cells after which the infection is treated using medication or home therapies if the infection is not complicated.
You can prevent yourself from getting candidiasis by practising good hygiene, eating healthy and avoiding tight clothing, among other things.
Causes – What causes it?
Genital candidiasis is mostly caused by the Candida albicans which is responsible for most yeast infections. The factors that increase the risk of yeast infection are:
- Use of antibiotics as they increase the amount of lactobacillus which is “good bacteria”, in the vagina
- Unhealthy diet that includes a lot of sugary foods
- Having a weak immune system
- Uncontrolled diabetes
- Hormonal imbalance, for instance before menstruation
- Uncontrolled stress
- Lack of sleep
- Poor hygiene
Symptoms – What do you feel?
The common symptoms for genital candidiasis are:
- Itching and having a burning feeling
- Vaginal irritation during intercourse and urination
- Pain and sores on the vagina and vaginal opening
- Thick whitish-grey vaginal discharge
If a woman has a complicated yeast infection, she may experience severe redness, itching and swelling of the vagina that causes sores and tears in the vaginal tissue.
Diagnosis – How do you diagnose it?
It starts with seeing a doctor who asks about your medical history and finds out what symptoms you have.
- Pelvic exam: This is conducted to examine the vaginal walls and cervix and the surrounding areas for any external signs of infection.
- Laboratory test: A sample from the vagina is taken and tested for the yeast infection.
Other tests that can be used to diagnose candidiasis are blood tests, urine test and the mucous membrane test.
Treatment – How do you treat it?
In most cases this infection is treated using antifungal medication depending on the patient’s immune status, age and the severity of the infection.
The medication can either be through a single dose of oral medicine or medicine applied inside the genitals. Some medicines used for genital candidiasis include flucytosine.
If the yeast infection is complicated, the doctor may prescribe:
- 14-day dose; either an ointment, cream, tablet or suppository vaginal treatment,
- Two or three-day prescription of fluconazole or a long-term prescription of the same medicine.
Prevention – How do you prevent it?
You can prevent yourself from getting genital candidiasis by doing the following:
- Eating a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables
- Taking yoghurt or supplements with lactobacillus
- Washing your underwear with hot water and letting them dry in the sun
- Replacing feminine products frequently
- Wearing loose clothing, especially loose pants
- Wearing natural fibres such as cotton, linen or silk
- Avoiding sitting in hot tubs or taking frequent hot baths
- Avoiding sitting in wet clothing, especially bathing suits