Most cases of Candida infection are caused by the person's own Candida organisms. Candida yeasts usually live in the mouth, gastrointestinal tract, and vagina without causing symptoms. Symptoms develop only when Candida becomes overgrown in these sites. Rarely, Candida can be passed from person to person, such as through sexual intercourse.
The symptoms of genital candidiasis are similar to those of many other genital infections. Making a diagnosis usually requires laboratory testing of a genital swab a physician takes from the affected area.
How Is It Treated?
The drugs of choice for treating vaginal yeast infections
are antifungal drugs that can be:
- Taken orally
- Applied directly to the affected area
- Used vaginally.
Although these drugs usually work to cure the infection (80 percent to 90 percent success rate), infections that do not respond to treatment are becoming more common, especially in HIV
-infected women receiving long-term antifungal therapy. Prolonged and frequent use of these treatments can lessen their effectiveness.
Three-day and seven-day treatments may be effective as treatments for Candida infections.
Over-the-counter (OTC) treatments for Candida
infections are becoming more widely available. As a result, more women are diagnosing themselves with yeast infections
and using one of a family of drugs called "azoles" for therapy. However, misdiagnosis is common, and studies have shown that as many as two-thirds of all OTC drugs sold to treat Candida
infections are used by women without the disease.
Overuse of these antifungal medications can increase the chance that they will eventually not work (the fungus develops resistance to medications). Therefore, it is important to be sure of the diagnosis before treating it with over-the-counter or other antifungal medications.