Candida albicans is the fungus that causes candidiasis -- also known as a yeast infection. Nearly 75 percent of all women will have at least one infection in their lifetime. These infections are usually treated with antifungal drugs, many of which can be obtained without a prescription. Symptoms include a "cottage cheese-like" discharge and burning with urination.
What Is Candida?
Candidiasis, also known as a yeast infection, is a common fungal infection that occurs when there is an overgrowth of the fungus Candida. Candida is always present in the body in small amounts. However, when an imbalance occurs, such as when the normal acidity of the vagina changes or when the hormonal balance changes, Candida can multiply. When that happens, symptoms of candidiasis appear.
Women with Candida infections usually experience genital itching or burning, with or without a "cottage cheese-like" vaginal discharge. Males with genital candidiasis may experience an itchy rash on the penis.
(Click Candida Symptoms for more information.)
Candida StatisticsNearly 75 percent of all adult women have had at least one genital yeast infection in their lifetime. On rare occasions, men may also experience genital candidiasis. Candida infections occur more frequently and more severely in people with weakened immune systems.
There are some other conditions that may put a woman at risk for genital candidiasis, including:
- Diabetes mellitus
- Use of broad-spectrum antibiotics
- Use of corticosteroid medications.
How Is It Transmitted?
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.