Vaginal yeast infection (aka vaginal candidiasis) is caused by the Candida (C.) species of fungus, most commonly by the C. albicans strain. According to the Mayo Clinic, the disease can affect 3 out of 4 women once in their lifetime, with many of them experiencing at least a second episode.1
Yeast infection is not considered to be a true sexually transmitted disease, even if you had sexual intercourse with an infected partner, because women who are not sexually active can get a vaginal yeast infection through other circumstances.2
The Most Common Symptoms of Vaginal Yeast Infection
When a vaginal yeast infection begins to form, the symptoms can run from mild to moderate, which include:
• A burning sensation during sexual intercourse or urination
• Rashes, pain and soreness around the vaginal area
• Thick vaginal discharge that is odorless and white-gray in color. Its consistency is similar to cottage cheese3
• Itching and irritation in the vagina and the vaginal opening
• Redness and swelling of the vulva
Complicated Yeast Infection Can Develop as Well
In some cases, women may get a more severe, recurring form of vaginal yeast infection, simply called "complicated yeast infection."4 Its main indicator is when the infection recurs four times within a year.
Symptoms are more amplified as well, such as extensive redness, swelling and itching that may lead to tears, cracks or sores in the skin.
There are several probable causes of complicated yeast infection:
• A different species of the Candida fungus caused the infection aside from C. albicans
• You have uncontrolled diabetes, especially if your blood sugar level is high
• A weakened immune system due to a certain illness or medication
• High estrogen levels during pregnancy
Visit Your Doctor Immediately When Symptoms Appear
The symptoms of vaginal yeast infection are treatable, but it is important to consult with a trusted doctor first before doing anything. Diving into treatment straightaway without consultation may worsen your symptoms. The doctor will run several tests to determine the cause of your symptoms. Sometimes, it may not be yeast infection at all, but a urinary tract infection (UTI).
Typically, the two diseases are confused with one another because of the similarity in their symptoms. In contrast with yeast infection, a UTI is caused by bacteria that enter your urethra, causing pain during urination and back pain . If left untreated, a UTI can cause severe kidney damage, which is why it's very important to visit a doctor once you spot anything unusual.