Vulvovaginal candidiasis is an infectious disease characterized by the development of an inflammatory process in the organs of the genitourinary tract, the etiological factor in which yeast-like fungi of the genus Candida act.
Vaginal biocenosis, especially for women of reproductive age, is a complex system of interaction between the immune system of a macroorganism, lactoflora and opportunistic bacteria.
75% of all women in the world at least once in their lives have suffered the so-called “thrush”, this term is familiar to everyone. At the same time, the remaining 25% have never encountered this problem.
The mucous membranes of the vagina are a protective barrier designed to keep pathogenic microorganisms on their surface layer and prevent their further spread. At a normal level of lactobacilli, infectious pathogens caught on the mucous membrane cannot multiply and cause the development of inflammatory processes. When microbiocenosis is disturbed, pathogenic microorganisms begin to activate, causing the development of the disease.
Candida fungi live on the skin, mucous membranes of healthy people and are conditionally pathogenic microflora. If a woman suffers from chronic pathologies, then the risk of inflammation in the vagina increases.
Entering the mucous membranes of the genital organs, the fungal infection multiplies rapidly and causes severe discomfort, seriously impairing the patient’s quality of life.
Forms of vulvovaginal candidiasis
Vulvovaginal candidiasis can occur in three forms, the development of which depends on the microflora of the genital mucosa and general health:
- Asymptomatic carriage. There are no symptoms of a fungal infection. A slight increase in the number of microorganisms and a normal number of beneficial lactobacilli are possible.
- True form of candidiasis. It is accompanied by severe clinical signs resembling vulvovaginitis. On the mucous membranes, many fungi are detected in the presence of lactobacilli.
- Candidiasis, accompanied by symptoms of dysbiosis. Laboratory tests show a significant increase in fungal infection. Lactobacilli are found in minimal amounts or none at all.
The course of the disease can be:
- acute, characterized by a single dose and duration of about a month;
- chronic, accompanied by relapses up to 3-4 times a year or more;
- persistent, showing signs of disappearance of symptoms after treatment and the development of exacerbations over time.
Causes of occurrence
Vulvovaginal candidiasis develops under the influence of factors such as:
- Vaginal dysbacteriosis. This condition is accompanied by a decrease in the number of beneficial bacteria and a change in the acidity of the environment.
- Decreased immunity. The presence of inflammatory processes in the body, chronic pathologies, the presence of frequent stressful situations, excessive physical exertion.
- Hormonal disorders. The vaginal epithelium changes its structure when exposed to estrogen. They have a direct effect on the synthesis of glycogen, which is necessary for the reproduction of lactobacilli. With a decrease in hormone levels, the number of beneficial microorganisms decreases. In some, it occurs while taking hormonal contraceptives.
- Children and adolescents. The manifestation of candidiasis in girls is often found due to low local immunity. During adolescence, a fungal infection is activated due to an imbalance of hormones caused by a lack of rhythm in the work of the ovaries.
- Vaginosis of bacterial nature. The risk of candida proliferation increases in the presence of an inflammatory process in the genitals caused by pathogenic microorganisms.
With modern laboratory equipment in many laboratories, diagnostics is not difficult. Fungi are found in smear studies on flora. In some cases, the use of microscopic, bacteriological methods, polymerase chain reaction is required.
A gynecologist may suspect the presence of thrush during a gynecological examination or colposcopy. If signs of candida are detected, the patient is assigned to study biological materials using a specific test.