Vaginitis is a very common infection for women, to the point where it could be compared to the common cold. Candida vaginitis in particular is a type that 50-75% of women experience at least once. Being common does not infer that it is a minor disease. We need to be conscious of the treatment and prevention of it, as being common means that you are all the more likely to experience it again and again.
Three Out of Four, Possibly You Too
A beneficial bacteria known as lactobacillus exists inside a healthy vagina. This lactobacillus maintains the vaginal acidity to turn glycogen into lactic acid. But if the balance of lactobacillus is broken due to various reasons, there will be less lactic acid and the vaginal acidity won't be maintained. As a result, there can be a high proliferation of candida albicans yeast which causes candida vaginitis.
What causes overgrowth of candida albicans and imbalance of lactobacillus? The exact cause has not been scientifically discovered but it usually occurs in the following circumstances.
- Lifestyle Factors Wearing tight pants, leggings, and wet swimwear for a long time
- Weak Immunity Diabetes, Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), and ongoing use of antibiotics
- Hormonal Changes Pregnancy, menstruation, use of an oral contraceptive that is high in estrogen, thin vaginal wall due to estrogen deficiency after menopause
- Use of a Vaginal Cleanser or Douching Frequent use of vaginal cleansers can cause irritation inside the vagina and increase the amount of moisture.
Candida vaginitis can cause pelvic inflammation and complications in pregnancy if it is not treated quickly. If you have any of the following symptoms, see a doctor straight away.
- Itchy vulva or itchiness inside the vagina
- Vaginal discharge that looks like cottage cheese
- Pain during intercourse and urination, a burning sensation
- Red and swollen vulva and vagina
Candida vaginitis can relapse easily and people often use vaginal cleansers or vaginal tablets through self-diagnosis instead of visiting the hospital. However, incorrect self-treatment can worsen the infection. It is best to get treatment from a gynecologist as the treatment method can differ by cause and it is important to identify the exact bacteria causing it.
You will be examined to find the organism causing the infection when you visit the hospital. After sampling the vaginal discharge from the cervix, the organism causing it will be identified by a microscopic examination and bacterial culture test. There is no pain except for a slight discomfort when inserting the vaginal speculum during the test. It can take two to three days for the test results.
The treatment process is divided into uncomplicated candida vaginitis and chronic candida vaginitis (relapsing four or more times a year).
Fluconazole, an antifungal medication, or clotrimazole, a vaginal tablet, is used for both types of candida vaginitis.
Uncomplicated Candida Vaginitis ➡️ A single dose of oral fluconazole 150 mg or insert clotrimazole 500 mg inside the vagina once
Chronic Candida Vaginitis ➡️ Oral fluconazole 150 mg three times a day or insert clotrimazole inside the vagina every week for six months
Using antifungal medication can relieve symptoms mostly within two to three days. Early treatment and prevention are important as candida vaginitis can easily relapse.
There is an old proverb that says one “locks the stable door after the horse is stolen.” You would need to make sure the stable is sturdy to not lose the horse again but what’s best is to not get the horse stolen in the first place. This is also the case for our bodies. You should get treatment in a timely manner if diagnosed with candida vaginitis for your body to be healthy again.
But it’s best to not get infected at all. Then, how can you prevent a candida vaginitis infection?
☝ Improving the Vaginal Environment
- Eat fermented foods such as kimchi, soybean paste, yogurt, and cheese that are high in lactobacillus acidophilus to keep the vagina slightly acidic.
- Avoid washing or using a cleanser inside the vagina as it is not beneficial in maintaining vaginal acidity.
✌ Boosting Immunity
- Manage stress and don't overwork yourself to avoid lowering your immune system.
- Take care in basic health management such as getting enough sleep, resting, moderate exercise, and a well-regulated lifestyle.
🤟 Improving Daily Habits
- Tight clothing can worsen candida vaginitis. Wear cotton underwear that is breathable rather than synthetic material and avoid wearing leggings, tight pants, and shapewear.
- Wipe from the vulva to the anus after going number two. This can prevent the spread of any remaining fecal bacteria on the anus to the vagina.
- Bacteria can easily grow in a humid environment. Make sure to dry your genitals after showering.
- Candida vaginitis can occur if there is an overgrowth of candida albicans inside the vagina.
- Candida vaginitis is a common form of vaginal infection that occurs in three out of four women in a lifetime.
- Even if it’s a common infection, get appropriate treatment after an accurate diagnosis from a specialist instead of a self-diagnosing.