What is vaginal fungus? What are the symptoms and treatment methods?

What is vaginal fungus? What are the symptoms and treatment methods?

What is vaginal fungus? What are the symptoms and treatment methods?

Vaginal yeast infection, also known as candidiasis , is a common health problem in women. Under normal conditions, some bacteria and fungal cells are found in the vaginal flora. However, when the balance of bacteria and fungi changes, yeast-type fungal cells, called candida, can multiply. In this case, a vaginal yeast infection, which occurs with severe itching, swelling, discharge and irritation happens. Symptoms usually subside within a few days with medication. In more serious infections, it may take up to two weeks for complaints to clear. Once you have had a vaginal yeast infection, the probability of recurrence is increased. (Here you can learn how to get rid of vaginal yeast infection)

What is vaginal fungus? 

Vaginal fungus is a common infection that causes irritation, discharge and excessive itching in the tissues called vulva in and around the vagina. This condition, also called vaginal candidiasis, affects 75% of women in the community at least once. Vaginal yeast infections are not considered a sexually transmitted infection because they are more common in sexually inactive women, although they can spread sexually. However, regular sexual activity increases the risk of vaginal yeast infection.

What causes vaginal fungus?

Candida, which causes vaginal yeast infection, is a naturally occurring microorganism in the vaginal area. Lactobacillus bacteria in the vaginal flora keep the number of candidas under control. But if there is an imbalance in the body that reduces the number of these beneficial bacteria or prevents them from functioning effectively, the number of candidas may increase, causing infection. The use of antibiotics reduces the number of beneficial bacteria called Lactobacillus naturally found in the vagina, thereby paving the way for the development of fungal infection. Other factors that can cause vaginal yeast infection may include:

  • Pregnancy
  • Diabetes
  • Weak immune system
  • Unhealthy eating habits, including excessive consumption of sugary foods
  • Hormonal imbalance before the menstrual cycle
  • Contraceptive use or hormone treatments that increase estrogen levels
  • Stress
  • Insomnia

Vaginal yeast infections are most often caused by a species of yeast called Candida albicans. Infections caused by this yeast are easy to treat. There may be a different version of candida that is effective in recurrent or treatment-resistant fungal infections. With a laboratory test, the type of candida that caused the infection can be determined.

What are the symptoms of vaginal fungus?

Vaginal yeast infections can cause a number of symptoms and complaints such as:

  • Vaginal itching
  • Itching in the tissue around the vagina called vulva
  • Swelling, pain, redness, rash around the vagina
  • Vaginal discharge may appear in the form of whitish-gray and lumpy. Some women say that this stream looks like cottage cheese. Sometimes a watery stream can also be seen.
  • Burning while urinating or during intercourse
  • Pain during intercourse

Sometimes the symptoms disappear after a certain period of time without treatment. This period is directly related to the severity of the signs and symptoms.

Protection from vaginal fungus

To reduce the risk of vaginal fungus, cotton and tight underwear should be preferred. Also, avoiding the following can help reduce the risk of fungal infections:

  • Tight pantyhose, tights and jeans
  • Perfumed products such as foam bath, pad and tampon
  • Bathrooms with jacuzzi or extremely hot water
  • Unnecessary use of antibiotics in viral infections such as the common cold
  • Wet clothes such as swimwear and sportswear are not removed for a long time

How is vaginal fungus diagnosed?

Diagnosis of vaginal yeast infections is easy. The doctor first questions the patient’s medical history. In addition to listening to the patient’s complaints, he also asks if he has had a vaginal yeast infection before. The next step is gynecological examination, which includes examination of the cervix, vaginal wall and external genitalia. Depending on the examination findings, some cells are collected from the vagina and sent to the laboratory in the next step. Laboratory tests are often ordered for women who have recurrent or treatment-resistant fungal infections.

How to treat vaginal fungus?

Each fungal infection has different properties. For this reason, the doctor recommends the most appropriate treatment option for the patient based on the severity of the symptoms. Usually prescribe antifungal cream, ointment, tablet or suppository for simple fungal infections. In women with simple yeast infection, symptoms may return within two months of treatment. In this case, it is useful to refer to the doctor again. A different method is followed in the treatment of complicated infections. Complicated signs of infection include:

  • Complaints of severe redness, swelling and itching that cause wounds, cracks or tears in the vaginal tissue
  • Having four or more fungal infections in one year
  • Infection from a different type of candida, other than Candida albicans

In addition, treatment is planned differently in the presence of the following conditions:

  • Pregnancy
  • Uncontrolled diabetes
  • Having a weak immune system caused by the drugs used
  • HIV positive patients

Possible treatments for serious or complex yeast infections include:

  • 14 day cream, ointment, tablet or vaginal suppository treatment
  • Two or three doses of medication by mouth
  • Oral or long-term local antifungal medication once a week for six weeks

It should also be investigated whether there is a fungal infection in the sexual partner in the presence of recurrent infection. If any of the spouses are suspected of having a fungal infection, a condom must be used during sexual intercourse. A doctor should be consulted if:

  • Having symptoms of a fungal infection
  • Despite treatment, the symptoms did not decrease
  • Adding new symptoms that did not exist before

Herbal treatment options for vaginal fungus

In many cases, yeast infections can be easily and successfully treated at home. Some herbal treatments that can be preferred in vaginal fungal treatment include:

  • Tea tree oil: The antifungal properties of tea tree oil have been known for a long time. Researches have confirmed the ability of this essential oil to kill fungi. In most studies, tea tree oil has been tested on candida albicans, one of the most common yeasts in vaginal infections. Vaginal suppositories containing tea tree oil have been shown to treat vaginal yeast infections. Some women reported that when they put a tampon moistened with diluted tea tree oil into the vagina and spent one night, their infections passed. However, extreme caution is required as tea tree oil can irritate the skin and the vaginal walls are particularly sensitive. Tea tree oil is an essential oil and therefore needs to be mixed with a carrier oil. While wetting the tampon, 30 grams of warm coconut oil and 3-5 drops of tea tree oil can be used together. It is important to replace the used bumper regularly. Before using the oil, the person should test whether he has an allergy by dropping 1 drop in the forearm and waiting 12-24 hours.
  • Wild thyme oil. 

    Research has shown that it is possible to stop the growth of Candida albicans with the use of wild thyme oil. For this purpose, capsules containing thyme oil can be placed in the vagina at night. Alternatively, they can be applied to a buffer before being placed. Essential oils should be mixed with carrier oils before use and should not be applied directly to the skin. 30 g of sweet almond oil, warm coconut oil or 3-5 drops of essential thyme oil can be mixed in olive oil.

  • Probiotic supplements. Some probiotic supplements may offer a natural solution to yeast infection. Vaginal suppository forms can be preferred for fungal infections.
  • Natural yogurt. Natural, sugar-free, unsweetened yogurt contains beneficial bacteria called probiotics. These health beneficial bacteria help to restore yeast balance in the body.

For women who think they may have had a vaginal yeast infection, the best decision is to contact a healthcare provider right away. You check out our e-book.

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