Vaginal Candidiasis

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Vaginal Candidiasis
Vaginal Candidiasis Fungus.

Vaginal candidiasis, popular known as thrush or vaginal fungus, is a fungal disease of female genital organs. An episode of candidiasis occurs to more than half of all women at least once in a lifetime. It often tends to recur, should the occasion arise.

Causes

Vaginal candidiasis (thrush) is caused by a fungus called Candida, predominantly by Candida albicans. This fungus is a part of the normal microflora. To put it simply, it lives on human skin, in the mouth, vagina, anus and intestines. However, small quantities of this fungus do not cause any problems, as it is constantly inhibited by our bacterial microflora. For example, the “good” bacteria in the vagina protect its mucosa from the “bad” bacteria and fungi, including Candida. The mucosa is also protected by local immunity system.

Weak immune system (diabetes mellitus, immunodeficiency, chronic illness), or the death of good bacteria (antibiotics) are resulting all the conditions for the fungus to grow and multiply. That is the cause of candidiasis (vaginal fungus).

The emergence of vaginal candidiasis is influenced by pregnancy, synthetic panties, as well as hormonal contraceptives.  In some women the disease persists without any obvious reason. Please note that this is not a sexually transmitted disease, and it is usually harmless to the partner.

Signs and symptoms

The main features of thrush are red and swollen labia, white cottage cheese like vaginal discharge and burning or itching. The course of the disease is called uncomplicated (fortunately, this is the most common course) when it is rarely recurrenting and the patients do not have immune deficiency. The course is complicated when the disease persists for more than three times a year, the agent is Candida non-albicans, when the patient is pregnant or has diabetes mellitus or is in an immunosuppressive state.

Diagnostics

Gynecologists usually diagnose thrush after taking a vaginal smear. The fungus is visible when a smear is inspected through a microscope.

Treatment

Thrush treatment depends on whether the course of the disease is complicated, or not. Mostly used antifungal agents:

  •  Nystatin vaginal suppositories: more used for complicated course of disease, when the agent is Candida non-albicans. These days it is rarely used.
  •  Synthetic imidazoles. Clotrimazole ointment is the most popular method. It is applied to the vagina and labia. A course of treatment is 1-7 days. Treatment effect depends on the total dose rather than duration.
  •  Systemic therapy (oral agents/injections) - triazoles: fluconazole (most popular), ketoconazole, itraconazole. These drugs are significantly more harmful to the body, so are used for complicated forms of the disease. They must be prescribed by a physician.
  •  During pregnancy, only local agents can be used (ointments, suppositories).
  •  Treatment of a partner: usually is not necessary, except the cases when balanitis (inflammation of the penis) occurs, or female candidiasis is resistant to the treatment and keeps persisting.
  •  Sexual intercourse should be avoided during the treatment.

Prognosis

Although prone to relapse (repeat), the disease is not very dangerous. The prognosis of vaginal fungus is good. The more dangerous is candidiasis with complicated course.

   

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