A vaginal yeast infection is caused by the fungus candida. Candida is a microorganism that's normally present in your vagina, along with bacteria. Your vagina naturally contains a balanced mix of yeast and bacteria. Lactobacillus bacteria produce acid, which discourages overgrowth of yeast in the vagina. But disruption of the healthy balance can result in an overgrowth of yeast. Too much yeast in your vagina can lead to vaginal itching, burning, and other classic signs and symptoms of a yeast infection.
Overgrowth of yeast can result from:
- Antibiotic use, which leads to a decrease in the amount of lactobacillus bacteria in your vagina and a change in your vaginal pH that allows yeast to overgrow
- Uncontrolled diabetes
- Impaired immune system
- Anything that changes the type and amount of bacteria normally present in the vagina, such as douching or irritation from inadequate vaginal lubrication
Most often, yeast infection results from a type of candida fungus known as Candida albicans. Sometimes, however, a different type of candida fungus might be the cause of symptoms. Candida albicans responds well to typical treatments for yeast infections. Other types of candida, however, sometimes respond poorly to conventional therapies and may require more aggressive treatment.
A yeast infection can be sexually transmitted, especially through oral-genital sexual contact. However, yeast infection isn't considered a sexually transmitted infection because it happens in women who aren't sexually active and the candida fungus is naturally present in the vagina.
Nov. 01, 2012
- Vaginal yeast infections fact sheet. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women's Health. http://womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/vaginal-yeast-infections.cfm. Accessed Sept. 24, 2012.
- Vaginitis. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. http://www.acog.org/~/media/For%20Patients/faq028.pdf?dmc=1&ts=20120924T1249146853. Accessed Sept. 24, 2012.
- Hoffman BL, et al. Williams Gynecology. 2nd ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=768. Accessed Sept. 24, 2012.
- Mandell GL, et al. Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier; 2010. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/about.do?about=true&eid=4-u1.0-B978-0-443-06839-3..X0001-X--TOP&isbn=978-0-443-06839-3&uniqId=230100505-57. Accessed Sept. 24, 2012.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, et al. Sexually transmitted diseases treatment guidelines, 2010. MMWR. 2010;59:1. http://www.cdc.gov/std/treatment/2010/STD-Treatment-2010-RR5912.pdf. Accessed Sept. 24, 2012.
- Ferri FF. Ferri's Clinical Advisor 2013: 5 Books in 1. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2012. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/about.do?eid=4-u1.0-B978-0-323-08373-7..00002-9&isbn=978-0-323-08373-7&about=true&uniqId=343863096-23. Accessed Sept. 24, 2012.
- Sobel JD. Candida vulvovaginitis. http://www.uptodate.com/index. Accessed Sept. 24, 2012.
- Iavazzo C, et al. Boric acid for recurrent vulvovaginal candidiasis: The clinical evidence. Journal of Women's Health. 2011;20:1245.
- Watson C, et al. Comprehensive review of conventional and non-conventional methods of management of recurrent vulvovaginal candidiasis. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. 2007;47:262.
- Jurden L, et al. Can probiotics safely prevent recurrent vaginitis? The Journal of Family Practice. 2012;61:357.