Vulvovaginal candidiasis

The aim of this leaflet

This leaflet has been written to help you understand more about vulvo-vaginal candidiasis. It will tell you what it is, what causes it, what can be done, and where you can find out more about it.


What is vulvo-vaginal candidiasis?

Vulvo-vaginal candidiasis is a yeast infection of the vagina and vulva (inner and outer female genital area).


What causes vulvo-vaginal candidiasis?

Vulvo-vaginal candidiasis is usually caused by the yeast Candida albicans. Other Candida species are becoming increasingly more frequent causes of Candida vulvitis, but Candida albicans is responsible for over 85% of all yeast-induced vulvo-vaginal infections.


Is vulvovaginal candidiasis hereditary?

No, it is not.


What are the symptoms of vulvovaginal candidiasis?

Itching (pruritus) and increased vaginal discharge are the most typical symptoms. Other symptoms are variable: soreness and burning, painful sexual intercourse (dyspareunia), or discomfort passing urine (dysuria). These symptoms may also occur in other vaginal infections.

Candida vaginitis is more frequent during pregnancy, especially in the third trimester.

Symptoms of vaginitis are the same during pregnancy, although many women have less severe symptoms.


What does vulvo-vaginal candidiasis look like?

Redness (erythema) of the vagina and vulva is common. In severe infections, a typical white, thick, sticky vaginal discharge is seen, but a discoloured discharge may also be present.

Male partners may suffer from itching after sexual intercourse and may have tiny red spots and pustules (tiny white/yellow spots) on the glans penis.


How is the diagnosis made?

Examining a swab with a microscope, allows confirmation of around 75% of troublesome yeast infections.

If microscopy of fresh vaginal fluid proves negative in a symptomatic patient, laboratory confirmation by culture is indicated.


Can vulvo-vaginal candidiasis be cured?

Yes, but in some women it can be a recurrent disease.


How should it be treated?

During pregnancy, topical treatment with miconazole or clotrimoxazole cream or suppositories is preferred and may need to be repeated several times. Preventative treatment may be necessary.

Oral anti-yeast treatments (such as fluconazole and itraconazole) should be used with caution during pregnancy. They should only be used in severe cases where topical treatments have failed, using the minimum dose possible and these treatments should be avoided in the first trimester.

Vulvo-vaginal candidiasis is not a sexually transmitted infection and the male partner does not need to be treated if he has no symptoms.


What can I do?

Contact your doctor when you experience vulvo-vaginal itching and/or discharge.


Where can I find more information about vulvovaginal candidiasis?

Web links to detailed leaflets:



Drugs during pregnancy and lactation. Treatment Options and Risk Assessment. C. Schaefer, W.J. Peters, R.K. Miller 3rd edition 2014 (English)

While every effort has been made to ensure that the information given in this leaflet is accurate, your own doctor will be able to advice in greater detail.

This leaflet has been prepared by the EADV Task Force “Skin Diseases in Pregnancy”, it does not necessarily reflect the official opinion of the EADV.


April 2018