What is fungal infection?
A fungal infection of the genitals is usually caused by a fungus called Candida. A fungal infection isn't a sexually transmitted disease (STD). The Candida can coexist in a healthy balance with other normal bacteria in the vagina. The fungi and the bacteria balance maintain their own balance. When this balance is thrown off, fungi can get the upper hand, multiply and cause complaints. Fungal infection usually affects women, but in some cases can affect men.
What are symptoms of fungal infection?
- With women:
- Itching around the vagina and labia
- Swollen labia
- Thick lumpy, non-smelling discharge
- Increased vaginal discharge
- The inner walls of the vagina can be red, swollen and painful
- Urinating and sex can be painful
- Small skin tears around the outer labia
- With men:
- Often no complaints
- Red blotchy head of the penis
Is fungal infection serious and should I see a doctor?
Usually a fungal infection will go away on its own after a few weeks. Infections often appear during ovulation or right before menstruation. In men the irritation of the penis gradually diminishes on its own after a while.
Contact your doctor:
- When the infection doesn't go away on its own
- When the discharge, itching or burning gets to be too bothersome
What can I do about fungal infection myself?
- Don't clean the vulva and labia with soap, not even with neutral soap
- Soap irritates the genitals and increases the risk for fungal infection
- Don't irrigate the internal vagina with water, the vagina cleans itself
- By irrigating with water the natural balance in the vagina will be thrown of even more
- Don't use tampons during the infection
- Avoid or solve stress, there are indications that stress aggravates the symptoms
- When sex becomes to painful or the infection causes bothersome complaints, postpone the sexual relations
- When you do want to have sex, use (extra) lubrication
- For personal hygiene it's enough to wash the labia with water daily (this also goes for the penis)
- When the fungus keeps coming back, check wether or not you're using products that can disturb the internal balance of the vagina
How does fungal infection affect my body?
With a fungal infection the balance between different kinds of bacteria and fungi is disturbed. Certain bacteria or in this case fungi can get the upper hand, multiply and start causing complaints. This can be caused by washing the vagina with soap or irrigating the internal vagina with water regularly. The vagina cleans itself and doesn't need to be cleaned internally with water and the labia don't need to be cleaned with soap. For personal hygiene it's best to clean the labia (and for men the head of the penis) with water daily and not to use soap.