A fungal vaginal infection is caused by an imbalance of the naturally occurring fungi in a vagina. An infection can also be the result of a certain type of fungus or from the contraction of a sexually transmitted disease (STD). A small amount of discharge is normal for woman, especially during ovulation, but a large amount of thick discharge can be a sign of a fungal infection. If a woman experiences itchiness or pain during intercourse or while urinating, she may have an infection. Women should consult a physician who can test for an infection, determine the cause, and prescribe a treatment plan.
Candida albicans is responsible for most fungal vaginal infections and yeast infections. Yeast is naturally present on the skin and sometimes in the vagina, but if the fungus is introduced and the woman’s immune system does not prevent the fungi from growing and spreading, an infection can occur. Women taking antibiotics, birth control pills, or cortisone medications are more likely to develop a fungal infection of the vagina, as are those undergoing chemotherapy, are pregnant, and those who commonly use douches. The natural relationship between bacteria and fungi is often unbalanced by both menopause and stress, causing a yeast infection.
The fungus can spread to the vagina if something that has come in contact with the anus, such as toilet paper, is used on the vagina. Baths and wearing tight, constrictive clothing can also spread candida. A yeast infection can cause burning, itching, and inflammation. Thick white or gray discharge or crumbly discharge with an odor is a common symptom of a fungal vaginal infection.
Some women are more prone to contracting a fungal vaginal infection, but most women will experience a yeast infection at some point in their life. The infection is not serious, and most yeast infections can be treated with over-the-counter medications. A physician can do a vaginal culture by scraping the lining of the vagina, or a blood test can be performed to test for a fungal infection. Antifungal medications applied topically and sometimes in conjunction with an oral medication may be prescribed. There are also vaginal suppositories that can treat an infection.
Woman should consult a physician if they suspect that they have a fungal vaginal infection. The symptoms of a yeast infection may be caused by another disease, such as chlamydia or gonorrhea. Symptoms of bacterial vaginitis or trichomonal vaginitis are similar to the symptoms of a yeast infection, and could be the cause of the infection.