ติดเชื้อราในช่องคลอด (Vaginal Yeast Infection) สาเหตุ อาการ วิธีรักษา

Vaginal Yeast Infection

Vaginal yeast infections are prevalent among women, particularly those who are still menstruating. These infections are attributable to a yeast known as candida. Symptoms of vaginal yeast infections encompass vulvar itching and irritation

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Vaginal Yeast Infection

Vaginal yeast infections are prevalent among women, particularly those who are still menstruating.  These infections are attributable to a yeast known as candida. Symptoms of vaginal yeast infections encompass vulvar itching and irritation, as well as discomfort around the vaginal opening. It's worth noting that these infections can be recurrent and, in some cases, may lead to chronic symptoms.

What are vaginal yeast infections?

Vaginal yeast infections, the most common form of vaginitis, are caused by candida, a type of fungus naturally present in the body, including the mouth, digestive tract, and vagina. When candida remains in balance, it poses no issues. However, an overgrowth of candida can result in a yeast infection. Vaginal yeast infections, due to overgrowth of vaginal candida, primarily afflict women of reproductive age and those before menopause, contributing to a condition characterized by infection, swelling, and discomfort in the vaginal area.

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What are the symptoms of a vaginal yeast infection?

Vaginal yeast infections can manifest with changes in vulvar characteristics and alterations in vaginal discharge, typically becoming thicker without a strong odor. Although not everyone affected by these infections experiences symptoms, patients may encounter the following:

  • Vaginal and vulvar irritation or itchiness.
  • A burning sensation was exacerbated by urination.
  • White, curdy vaginal discharge resembling cottage cheese.
  • Inflammation and swelling of the vagina and vulva.
  • Occasional fissures in the vulvar or vaginal walls.
  • Rare instances of pain during sexual intercourse.

It is important to note that the symptoms of vaginal yeast infections can mimic those of other vaginal conditions or sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Therefore, if you experience any of the symptoms mentioned but are uncertain about the nature of the condition, it is advisable to seek medical attention for a definitive diagnosis.

What is the main cause of vaginal yeast infection?

Vaginal yeast infections are due to an overgrowth of the yeast species known as candida. Under normal circumstances, candida does not cause symptoms; however, environmental changes can foster its proliferation, resulting in a yeast infection. Various risk factors that can contribute to the multiplication of candida include:

  • Antibiotics: Antibiotics eliminate the beneficial bacteria in the vagina, which usually help regulate yeast growth. When yeast outnumbers these beneficial bacteria, it can lead to a yeast infection.
  • Pregnancy and hormonal changes: Hormonal shifts, such as those occurring during pregnancy, use of birth control pills, or changes in the menstrual cycle, can disrupt the equilibrium of candida in the vaginal environment.
  • Uncontrolled diabetes: Elevated blood sugar levels can lead to an excess of sugar in the urine, creating an environment conducive to yeast growth.
  • Impaired immune system: Conditions and treatments that suppress the immune system, such as medications for HIV or AIDS, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy, can make the body more susceptible to candida overgrowth.

How is a yeast infection diagnosed?

Diagnosing a vaginal yeast infection involves a physician taking a sample of vaginal discharge for examination. Women experiencing vulvar or vaginal itchiness may assume they have a yeast infection and attempt to self-treat using over-the-counter medications. However, it is strongly recommended not to initiate treatment independently at home without a confirmed diagnosis, as self-diagnosis can potentially exacerbate the condition and result in wasted time and resources.

If an individual experiences vaginal yeast infections more than four times in a year, it is advisable to consult a doctor. A healthcare professional may conduct tests to confirm the presence of a vaginal yeast infection, perform a blood sugar test to assess for diabetes, and conduct tests for AIDS or HIV if necessary. Additionally, a doctor can investigate potential causes of hormonal fluctuations.

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How to treat a vaginal yeast infection?

Vaginal yeast infections are treatable through two primary methods: oral and topical medications.

  • Oral Medication Treatment: An antifungal medication known as fluconazole is a common choice for managing yeast infections. Typically, a single dose of fluconazole is sufficient. However, individuals with severe symptoms, underlying medical conditions, or recurrent yeast infections may require a second dose three days after the initial one. Side effects of fluconazole are generally mild and rare, such as stomach upset, headache, and rash. It is important to note that fluconazole can interact with several other medications, so consulting with your doctor or pharmacist before taking it is advisable. Moreover, this oral medication is not recommended for pregnant women as it may pose a risk to the developing fetus.
  • Topical Treatment: Topical medications for vaginal yeast infections are available in the form of vaginal creams and tablets. Apply these products by inserting them inside the vagina using an applicator before bedtime.

It is crucial to refrain from sexual intercourse while undergoing antifungal treatment, as it can exacerbate irritation, and some medications may compromise the effectiveness of birth control methods.

For individuals experiencing recurrent vaginal yeast infections, the appropriate treatment must address the specific underlying cause of yeast infections to help prevent their recurrence. In cases where yeast infections occur four or more times a year, a doctor may recommend taking oral antifungal medication once a week for six months to prevent future episodes.

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How can a vaginal yeast infection be prevented?

To prevent the occurrence of vaginal yeast infections, consider making the following lifestyle changes:

  • Avoid Douching: Douching can disrupt the natural balance of bacteria that help control fungal growth in the vagina.
  • Use Antibiotics Wisely: Minimize the unnecessary use of antibiotics, as they can inadvertently harm the beneficial vaginal bacteria, allowing yeast to proliferate.
  • Avoid Feminine Deodorants and Scented Tampons: These products can introduce irritants and disrupt the vaginal environment. It's best to opt for unscented alternatives.
  • Stay Dry: Avoid prolonged periods in wet clothing, such as bathing suits or gym clothes, as a moist environment can promote yeast growth. Change out of damp attire promptly.
  • Choose Comfortable Clothing: Opt for breathable, loose-fitting clothing to reduce moisture buildup and friction in the vaginal area.
  • Use Water-Based Lubricants: When using sexual lubricants, opt for water-based options, as they are less likely to disrupt the vaginal environment compared to oil-based lubricants.
  • Maintain Healthy Blood Sugar Levels: If you have diabetes, it's crucial to manage your blood sugar levels, as high sugar levels can create conditions favorable for yeast overgrowth.
    By incorporating these lifestyle changes, you can help reduce the risk of developing vaginal yeast infections and maintain better vaginal health.

FAQ

  • How long does it take for yeast infections to go away?
    Mild yeast infections may go away on their own, but rarely. It can take a few days and up to a week for yeast infections to resolve after treatment. However, severe yeast infections may persist longer and require a lengthier treatment period. It is crucial to take the prescribed medication and complete the entire course to prevent recurrence.
  • Do birth control pills lead to yeast infections?
    Regarding birth control pills, some studies have suggested a potential association between oral birth control pills and an increased risk of yeast infections in women. However, there is no evidence to indicate that the risk decreases upon discontinuing their use. Therefore, it is not advisable to stop birth control pills solely due to yeast infection. Instead, consult with a healthcare provider to explore alternative birth control options if yeast infections recur.
  • Does my partner need to be treated if I have a vaginal yeast infection?
    While yeast infections are not considered sexually transmitted infections (STIs), a sexual partner can develop a yeast infection through contact. However, the likelihood of transmission is generally low, especially if the partner is an assigned male at birth. Nevertheless, it's advisable to seek medical guidance if your partner experiences symptoms or concerns related to yeast infections to ensure proper evaluation and treatment, if necessary.

Article by

  • Dr Sarwinee Ratchanon
    Dr Sarwinee Ratchanon A obstetrician-gynecologist specializing in reproductive endocrinology

Published: 10 Nov 2023

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