Vulvovaginal candidiasis is an infection caused by fungal species of the genus Candida. Among which Candida albicans It is the most common.
This fungus is usually found, although in small quantities, in different areas of the body such as the skin, mouth, gastrointestinal tract and vagina. It does not produce disease when they are kept in their usual number.
But nevertheless, different circumstances may favor the overgrowth of colonies of Candida albicans leading to a vulvovaginal candidiasis if it affects that area.
Prevalence of vulvovaginal candidiasis
It is estimated that 75% of women will have vaginal candidiasis at least once in their life. Their lack of control can affect the quality of life.
Between 20 and 50% of women have their vagina colonized by Candida albicans, although this does not mean that there is infection. Under normal conditions there are no symptoms because the acid pH of the vagina, the immune system and the presence of a balanced vaginal flora prevent the fungus from reproducing excessively.
But nevertheless, If there is excessive colonization of this fungus, there may be an imbalance in the vaginal flora leading to a vulvovaginal candidiasis.
Vulvovaginal candidiasis It can affect 75% of women at some time in their lives. In addition, recurrence occurs in 5% of cases, manifesting four or more times a year. This affects the quality of life of women.
Risk factors for vulvovaginal candidiasis
Some of the risk factors for vulvovaginal candidiasis are:
- Mellitus diabetes with poorly controlled glycemia.
- Recent treatment with antibiotics: antibiotics unbalance the flora because they kill bacteria, but not fungi.
- Hormonal changes.
- Immunosuppression due to illness or treatment.
On the other hand It is advisable not to wear tight clothes or wet bath clothes. You should also maintain a hygiene with appropriate products and that respect the pH of the vagina.
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Candidiasis manifests with symptoms such as alterations in vaginal discharge, irritation, sensation of itching and stinging or burning. These signs can affect both the inside and the outside of the vagina.
In many cases There is also pain during urination and discomfort or pain when having sex. However, other symptoms may appear, such as vulvar swelling and redness, scratching lesions, and the presence of a lumpy, whitish discharge with virtually no odor.
How to differentiate a vulvovaginal candidiasis from other infections?
The symptoms of vaginal candidiasis can be similar to those of other intimate area infections. However, it can be differentiated by the texture and odor of vaginal discharge.
There are other vaginal infections that are relatively frequent in the childbearing years. They can be differentiated by the consistency of vaginal discharge and its smell. Some of these infections are:
This infection It is caused by an alteration of the vaginal microbiota by bacteria like Gardnerella vaginalis, Prevotella and Bacteroides species.
Bacterial vaginosis It is frequent in pregnancy as well as in women who use intrauterine devices, douching, stress or hormonal changes. The flow in bacterial vaginosis has a strong fishy odor and its consistency is white or grayish viscous.
This infection is caused by Trichomonas vaginalis, is a sexually transmitted disease. Vaginal discharge when this infection occurs is of unusual smell. The consistency is foamy, transparent, white, yellowish or greenish.
Also read: Vaginal trichomoniasis: what problems can it take us?
Treatment of vulvovaginal candidiasis
The treatment of this condition can be addressed locally vaginally and orally. Vaginal treatment can be with clotrimazole 2% vaginal cream or with clotrimazole ovules of 100 and 500 mg.
As adjuvants of treatment or to prevent vulvovaginal candidiasis specific combinations of probiotics can be used. They can be used both vaginally and orally.
The treatment by mouth is with antifungals. The most commonly used are fluconazole and itraconazole. These drugs They may have side effects such as nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. In addition, they can affect liver function.
Hygiene and prevention measures
Some of the main ones hygiene and prevention measures to avoid vulvovaginal candidiasis are:
- Take probiotics when taking antibiotics.
- Maintain adequate intimate hygiene: avoid moisture and dry the area well.
- Clean the genital and anal area, always from front to back.
- Change compresses and tampons frequently. It is advisable to avoid the use of tampons if there is infection.
- Wear cotton underwear.
In case of treatment for vulvovaginal candidiasis take protective measures in sexual relations. It is also advisable to treat the two members of the couple.