Candidiasis is an infection caused by a yeast (a type of fungus) called Candida. Candida normally lives inside the body (in places such as the mouth, throat, gut, and vagina) and on skin without causing any problems.
A healthy vagina contains bacteria and some yeast cells. But when the balance of bacteria and yeast changes, the yeast cells can multiply. Candidiasis in the vagina is commonly called a “vaginal yeast infection.” Other names for this infection are “vaginal candidiasis,” “vulvovaginal candidiasis,” or “candidal vaginitis.” It is popularly known as ‘White’ or “Odeepua” in Ghana.
Vaginal candidiasis is a common fungal infection of the genitals. It is a fungal infection that causes irritation, discharge and intense itchiness of the vagina and the vulva — the tissues at the vaginal opening. It most commonly affects women, but men can get it too. vaginal Candidiasis or vulvovaginal Candidiasis (VVC), are experienced by as many as 3 out of 4 women during their lifetime.
Vaginal candidiasis isn’t considered a sexually transmitted infection (STI). Sexual contact can spread it, but women who aren’t sexually active can also get them. Once you get a vaginal candidiasis, you’re also more likely to get another one.
Vaginal yeast infections have a common set of symptoms, such as:
- itching, burning, or irritation of the vagina or vulva, which is the tissue surrounding the vagina
- swelling around the vagina
- Pain or soreness in the vagina or the vaginal opening
- Vaginal burning with intercourse or urination
- A thick, white, odorless discharge that resembles cottage cheese, or a watery discharge
Whitish-gray and clumpy vaginal discharge is another classical symptom. Some people say this discharge looks like cottage cheese. Sometimes the discharge may also be watery.
Usually the length of time your yeast infection is left untreated has a direct impact on how severe your symptoms may become.
Complicated vaginal candidiasis may occur, with more severe symptoms. There may be severe redness, swelling, and itching, leading to skin fissures or sores. Medical conditions that can cause a complicated vaginal candidiasis include uncontrolled diabetes, pregnancy, having a weakened immune system, and the presence of an alternate Candida fungus, as opposed to Candida albicans.
In men, it affects the head of the penis. Symptoms include redness, irritation, and discharge. It can also affect the skin or the mouth.
Vaginal candidiasis is caused by the yeast species Candida albicans, but other species of Candida can also cause an infection. Despite Candida albicans is the most common cause of vulvovaginal candidiasis, the frequency of vulvovaginal candidiasis caused by other Candida species, such as C. tropicalis, C. glabrata, and C. krusei is increasing, especially in HIV-infected women. They may need different treatment.
Balanced levels of yeast and bacteria are normally present in a woman’s vagina, but disturbances in this delicate balance can lead to the development of an infection.
Candida is a naturally occurring fungal microorganism in the vaginal area. Lactobacillus bacteria keeps its growth in check.
But when there is a change in the balance in the vagina, these bacteria won’t work effectively. This leads to an overgrowth of yeast, which causes the symptoms of vaginal yeast infections.
Several factors can cause a yeast infection, including:
- antibiotics (they decrease the amount of Lactobacillus [“good bacteria”] in the vagina)
- uncontrolled diabetes
- hormonal imbalance near your menstrual cycle
- weak immune system
- poor eating habits, including a lot of sugary foods
- lack of sleep
A specific kind of yeast called Candida albicans causes most yeast infections. These yeast infections are easily treatable.
A different version of Candida might be the cause if you are having recurring yeast infection. A lab test can identify what type of Candida you have.
A doctor will start by asking questions about symptoms, sexual practices and any history of any STIs or previous yeast infections.
They might also perform a pelvic exam to inspect the vulva, vagina, and cervix for signs of infection. A sample of urine or/and vaginal discharge may be sent to a laboratory to confirm the diagnosis.
Laboratory tests are usually ordered if an infection does not go away or keeps returning.
Examining a swab of vaginal discharge under a microscope can reveal if high levels of yeast are present.
Treatment can begin when it is clear whether the infection is uncomplicated or complicated.
Treatment of the infection depends on whether it is complicated or uncomplicated.
Uncomplicated yeast infection
to treat an uncomplicated vaginal candidiasis is ether by Direct vaginal therapy or oral treatment. In direct vaginal therapy the herbal preparations or extract are administered through the vagina while the herbal preparations or extracts are taken orally in the oral treatment.
Complicated yeast infection
In the case of a complicated vaginal candidiasis, treatment will include the use of long-course vaginal therapy or single/multi plant based oral formulations.
Herbs commonly used in Ghana for the treatment of Candidiasis include:
Momordica charantia- Nyinya
Alchornea codifolia – ogyama
Zanthollylum zanthoxyloides – Okanto
Agreatum conyzoides – Gua koro
Cassia alata – sempe
Allium sativum – Garlic
Azadirachta indica – neem – dua gyene
Aframomum melegueta – fam wisa
Note: contact your medical herbalist before using any of the above or herbs for treatment.
There is no guaranteed way to prevent a Candida infection, certain actions can reduce the risk of developing a vaginal candidiasis.
Women who are susceptible are advised to:
- Avoid douching
- Wear loose fitting pants or skirts
- Do not use feminine deodorant or deodorant pads or tampons
- Wear underwear made from cotton or other natural fibers
- Wash underwear at a high temperature
- Eat a healthy, varied diet
- Avoid tight underwear and pantyhose
- Promptly change wet clothing, for example bathing suits
- Avoid hot tubs and hot baths
Ghana Herbal Pharmacopoeia (1992), 3,32,46,56,100. The Advent Press: Accra, Ghana.
Mshana, N.R., Abbiw, D.K., Addae-Mensah, I., Ahiyi, M.R.A. et al (2000). Traditional medicine and pharmacopoeia. Contribution to the revision of Ethnobotanical and Floristics Studies of Ghana. Organisation of African Unity/Scientific, technical and research committee.
Sobel JD, Ohmit SE, Schuman P, Klein RS, Mayer K, Duerr A, et al. The evolution of Candida spp. and fluconazole susceptibility among oral and vaginal isolates recovered from human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-seropositive and at-risk HIV-seronegative women. J Infect Dis. 2001;183:286–93.
Vaginal Yeast Infection. https://www.healthline.com/health/vaginal-yeast-infection. Accessed July 30, 2019.
What you need to know about a yeast infection. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/151172.php. Accessed July 30, 2019.
Candidiasis. https://www.cdc.gov/fungal/diseases/candidiasis/index.html. Accessed July 30, 2019.