Fungus are infections that can affect several parts of the body. They are caused by the appearance of micro-fungi. They are very common and affect 3 out of 4 women at least once in their lives. Contrary to popular belief, it is not an STI (Sexually Transmitted Infection), as it develops without any link to sexual intercourse, and is very rarely contagious. Fungal infection has no serious health consequences. However, it should be observed and treated promptly during pregnancy, as it can lead to premature delivery.

What causes fungus?

The fungus responsible for the most common mycoses is Candida (Albicans or Glabrata). It is already present in our vagina, but is not dangerous as long as it is surrounded by the bacteria of the vaginal flora that protect our vagina. These bacteria prevent infections by creating acidity. If the flora becomes weakened for one or more reasons and/or the acidity of the vagina fluctuates, then the Candida fungus will proliferate. This is where the fungus is created.

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What are the causes of fungus?

As explained earlier, a yeast infection develops when the vaginal flora is out of balance.


This can happen when taking certain antibiotics that attack the good bacteria in our vaginal flora.


It can also develop when intimate hygiene is too frequent and/or intense (douching, vaginal deodorants, etc.). In fact, if the wrong shower gel is used, the pH of the vagina can change.


In addition, the fungus tends to grow more in moist areas. It can be favored by irritation caused by certain fabrics and clothing (thongs, tight trousers, etc.), or by the use of intimate hygiene products (sanitary towels), or during sexual intercourse with little lubrication, which leads to an increase in heat and thus to the maintenance of moisture in the vagina.


A fungal infection can also develop more quickly in the event of stress or fatigue, which leads to a reduction in the immune system, or a diet rich in sugar, which feeds the fungi.


Fungi can also occur in situations of hormonal imbalance, and are therefore more likely to develop just before menstruation or during pregnancy, due to high oestrogen levels. Some patients may be susceptible to fungal infections while taking birth control pills.

What are the symptoms of fungus?

The fungus, once developed, can cause itching and burning in the vulva, redness and a much thicker vaginal discharge than usual. It can become extremely painful once you start scratching hard.

What are the treatments for fungus?

The first thing to do is to go to your doctor, not the pharmacy, because the symptoms of fungus are similar to many infections. If it is proven to be a fungus, you will be provided with a cream to apply locally to the vulva and the places that itch; also antifungal ovules will be introduced into your vagina, which will prevent the fungus from proliferating (advice for use: implant the ovule in your vagina before going to sleep, providing a towel in case it expels the fungus during the night). Finally, neutral or alkaline intimate gels are recommended to increase the pH of your vaginal flora so that it is balanced again. Don’t forget to tell your partner so that he/she can also use a treatment.

Co-authored and scientifically validated by Dr Jean-Philippe Estrade

Gynaecological and obstetric surgeon, expert in endometriosis at the Clairval Private Hospital and the Bouchard Clinic, in Marseille.

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