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Candida (yeast infections)

Candida is a fungal infection. It’s also known as yeast infection, candidiasis, thrush, or genital candidosis.

Candida usually exists as a harmless fungus that grows in the vagina, anus, mouth, and under the foreskin in uncircumcised men.

However, when yeast grows in excess it causes irritation and unpleasant symptoms in these areas.

It’s not actually a STD. But you can pass it on by a variety of different behaviours including sex. This is why it’s included in the STD section.

In general, you don’t need to treat it unless you experience symptoms.

How do you get candida infection?

You can get a Candida infection when this yeast grows in excess. Generally, this happens only when your body’s system is out of balance. And the balance of bacteria and yeast in your body has been disrupted, resulting in this excessive growth of yeast.

Common causes of yeast infections are:

  • Taking birth control pills or other hormones
  • Changes in hormone levels before your period or during pregnancy
  • Taking antibiotics, particularly ‘broad spectrum’ ones such as penicillin
  • Taking steroid medicines
  • Having elevated blood sugar levels
  • Having vaginal intercourse, especially dry sex
  • Using spermicides
  • Leaving a tampon in for too long
  • Using harsh soaps
  • Douching

How do you protect yourself from getting Candida?

There are several ways to prevent a yeast infection or thrush.

If you’re a woman:

  • Wash the inner and outer labia of your vulva where yeast is likely to grow
  • Dry your vaginal area thoroughly after taking a shower/bath
  • Avoid using harsh soaps or perfumes, including talcum powder
  • Wipe from front to back after using the toilet (vulva to anus)
  • Wear 100 per cent cotton underwear
  • Use hot water to wash underwear and avoid using fabric softener
  • Avoid wearing tight-fitting slacks or shorts
  • Use unscented sanitary pads instead of tampons
  • Change sanitary pads or tampons often
  • Eat foods like yoghurt that contain ‘good’ bacteria known as lactobacillus acidophilus
  • Avoid having dry sex – use lubrication
  • Use a water-soluble lubricant when you have sex, such as K-Y Jelly
  • Avoid using spermicides
  • Ask your partner to wash his penis and hands before having sex with you
  • Use a condom
  • Avoid vaginal douching
  • Switch to a non-hormonal method of birth control, such as condoms, inter-uterine devices, diaphragms, or withdrawal

If you’re a man:

  • Wear 100 per cent cotton underwear
  • Use hot water to wash underwear, and avoid using fabric softener
  • Avoid wearing tight-fitting slacks or shorts
  • Wash your hands and penis before having sex
  • Use a condom
  • Avoid harsh soaps and perfumes, including talcum powder
  • Eat foods like yoghurt that contain ‘good’ bacteria known as lactobacillus acidophilus
  • Use a water-soluble lubricant when you have sex, such as K-Y Jelly
  • Avoid using spermicides

What are the signs that you've got Candida?

Generally speaking, most people infected with Candida – or yeast infection – don’t have any symptoms. You're more likely to notice it if you’re a woman than if you're a man.

If you think you’ve got a yeast infection get it checked out. Sometimes, a yeast infection is confused with an STD infection like trichomoniasis.

A doctor can use a speculum to see inside the vagina.

In women, symptoms of a yeast infection are:

  •     Irritation, itching, redness, soreness and swelling of the vulva and vaginal area
  •     Thick, curd-like vaginal discharge
  •     Vaginal odour
  •     Pain when you urinate
  •     Pain when you have sex

In men, symptoms of a yeast infection or thrush:

  •     Irritation, redness, and scaly look on the head of the penis
  •     Swelling of the head of the penis
  •     Difficulty in pulling back the foreskin of the penis
  •     Whitish discharge from the penis

How do you get tested for Candida?

If you think you’re infected with Candida, you can go to your doctor to get tested. Your doctor will examine the infected area and may take a swab and test it for Candida.

How do you get rid of Candida?

Candida or thrush is easily treated.

The symptoms of irritation, itchiness, and discharge don’t cause serious health problems.

You’ve a few options for treatment:
1. Natural remedies such as Acidophilus tablets
2. Over-the-counter creams or suppositories, such as Monistat, which come in one-day, three-day, or seven-day packages.
3. Prescribed medication such as the one-dose fluconazole (Diflucan)

Depending on how bad your symptoms are, your doctor may recommend any of the three treatment options.

Keep in mind that over-the-counter creams or suppositories may contain oil that can damage condoms. So speak to your local pharmacist to see whether your suppository or cream contains any oil. If it does, avoid using it with condoms.

Comments
Hi av this problem kindly help ihav visited medical checpup but no change ihave pain when pacing Irine always having more discharge day by day kindly advise

Hey Liz, vaginal discharge is perfectly normal and healthy, usually there is no need to discuss it with a doctor. However, if there has been  any drastic changes in smell, colour or quantity, especially in combination with itching, pain or redness, it could be a sign of infection. In that case, you must consult a specialist Gynecologist and get it checked. Your doctor will recommend tests that will help determine what could be causing this. Check out the following article;- https://lovemattersafrica.com/our-bodies/female-body/vaginal-discharge-and-odour-top-facts

Hey Sandra, Yeast infection or Candida usually exists as a harmless fungus that grows in the vagina, anus, mouth, and under the foreskin in uncircumcised men. However, when yeast grows in excess it causes irritation and unpleasant symptoms in these areas. Usually, it will not cause serious issues such as infertility. However, if you trying to get pregnant, it would be important to get it treated since it can cause delay or prevent pregnancy. Check out the following article for additional information;- https://lovemattersafrica.com/safe-sex/stds-stis/candida-yeast-infection

Hi Tyron, the different tests have to do with the different brands in the market produced by different companies. There are however specific HIV testing kits that have been approved and are used for testing. One only needs a confirmatory test, to confirm a positive result and this is done with a different brand of HIV testing kit. Check out the following article;- https://lovemattersafrica.com/safe-sex/stds-stis/hiv-what-to-expect-when-getting-tested

Hi Sandra, yes they are two different things. Yeast infection or Candida is a fungal infection. Yeast infection are therefore caused by Fungi. On the other hand, some Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) like Chlamydia, Syphilis, Gonorrhoea among others are caused by Bacteria. Other STIs are caused by Viruses. Check out the following articles for additional information of the different STIs;- https://lovemattersafrica.com/safe-sex/stds-stis

Tyron, PMTCT is an acronym for Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission which is are interventions to prevent transmission of HIV from an HIV-positive mother to her infant during pregnancy, labor, delivery, or breastfeeding. There are interventions that will help reduce the chances of transmitting the virus from the mother to child. Have a look at the following article for more information;- https://lovemattersafrica.com/safe-sex/stds-stis/hiv

Hello Alphonse, pain is always a sign that something is wrong. If you feel pain in you testicles on a regular basis, you may want to get checked. Also after you ejaculate, you will loose your erection and it will take sometime before you can get another erection. There is no real way to reduce this time, but you can take this time to focus on your partner soon you will get hard again and you can have sex. Check out the following article;- https://lovemattersafrica.com/our-bodies/male-body/healthy-testicles-and-penis-top-facts

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