What is a yeast infection?
Vulvovaginal candidiasis, often referred to as yeast infection, is a common gynaecologic ailment, affecting 75% of women at least once in their lifetime. More than 40% will have 2 or more episodes and infection occurs more frequently in pregnant women. Yeast infection is caused by a fungus called Candida. This is found in small numbers in the normal vagina. However, when the balance of bacteria and yeast in the vagina is altered, the yeast may overgrow and cause symptoms.
What factors increase the risk of getting a yeast infection?
- Uncontrolled diabetes
- Impaired immune system
- Use of certain antibiotics, steroids, post-organ transplant medications
- Hormonal contraceptives pills, patches or vaginal rings
- Contraceptive devices such as vaginal sponges or diaphragms
Symptoms of yeast infection
- Swelling and redness of the vulva
- Vaginal itching and irritation
- Heavy, cottage-cheese like vaginal discharge
- Pain with urination
- Painful intercourse
Diagnosis of yeast infection
Usually, the diagnosis is made on the basis of symptoms and physical examination by your physician. Additionally, laboratory analysis of the vaginal discharge may be performed.
Treatment of yeast infection during pregnancy
Antifungal topical creams applied for 7 days or vaginal pessaries as prescribed by your physician are recommended for treatment. Oral antifungals are not routinely recommended in pregnancy.
How to prevent recurrent yeast infections?
Around 5% to 8% of women have recurrent yeast infections. These women need a longer course of treatment, sometimes for months. Treatment of a sexual partner is not necessary since this is NOT a sexually transmitted infection. The following measures can be adopted to prevent recurrence:
- Good control of blood sugars in diabetic women
- Eliminate vaginal douching
- Reduce or eliminate precipitating factors if possible (for e.g. alternative contraceptive method)