Vaginal Candidiasis ("Yeast") Infections
- Vaginal yeast infections are also called Candida vaginal infections or
candidiasis. These are common fungal infections that result from an overgrowth
of the fungus Candida albicans. Candida is normally present
in the body - in the vagina, mouth and gastrointestinal tract - in small amounts.
However, when an imbalance occurs, Candida can multiply and symptoms of candidiasis
- Most cases of Candida infection are caused by the person's own Candida
organisms. Candida is not passed from person to person through sex; it is
not considered a sexually transmitted disease (STD).
- 75 percent of all women are likely to have at least one vaginal yeast infection
during their lives; up to 45 percent of women may have two or more yeast infections.
- Vaginal yeast infections are the second most common cause of vaginal discharge
in the United States (the first is bacterial vaginosis).
- Women tend to be more susceptible to vaginal yeast infections if their
bodies are under stress from poor diet, illness, or lack of sleep. Yeast
infections also occur commonly when women take antibiotics or corticosteroid
medications. These conditions can destroy the so-called "friendly bacteria"
that normally inhabit the vagina keeping yeast fungus in balance.
- Yeast infections are also common during pregnancy and in women with diabetes,
perhaps due to a chemical change in the vaginal environment -- there is more
sugar in the vaginal secretions on which the yeast feed.
- Other precipitating factors may include wearing tight clothing, which traps
heat and moisture and doesn't permit sufficient air circulation to allow the
area to dry thoroughly.
- Although it is rare, men may also experience genital candidiasis.
- About 5 percent (one in 20) of women with vaginal yeast infections develop
recurrent vulvovaginal candidiasis (RVVC), which is defined as four or more
symptomatic vaginal yeast infections in a one-year period. Although RVVC is
more common in women who have diabetes or weakened immune systems, most women
with RVVC have no underlying medical illness that would predispose them to
recurrent Candida infections. It is important to differentiate a recurrent
vaginal yeast infection from one that was not properly treated in the first
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Created: 10/23/2001  - Donnica Moore, M.D.
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