Normally, the presence of yeast in the vagina is kept in check by certain bacteria. But an imbalance in the vaginal microbiome allows yeast to overgrow, leading to a yeast infection or vulvovaginal candidiasis. Although most cases are mild, some women develop more severe symptoms, and others have recurring infections even after drug treatments.
Yeast infections are common, affecting three out of four women at least once in their life. It often causes itching, burning sensations and a white discharge. However, some women do not experience symptoms at all.
Treatment is often expensive, and not always able to clear infections. About 50% of women experience at least two infections in their lifetime.
Women with yeast infections experience not only financial and emotional strain, but it also negatively impacts sexual relations and productivity. Despite this, little attention has been given to studying the disease.
While not considered a sexually transmitted infection, new sexual partners are a risk factor. Antibiotics, pregnancy, and certain types of contraceptives can also upset the balance in the vaginal microbiome and trigger infection.
Basic understanding of why some women have symptoms, while others do not, and yet other women have recurring infections, is lacking. About half of women with recurrent yeast infections do not even have an identifiable risk factor.
The link between fungi, the vaginal microbiome, and the human immune system is poorly understood. We also don’t know how drug treatments for yeast infections influence the vaginal microbiome, and what strains of yeast pose the greatest risk of infection or drug resistance.
Women ages 18 to 50 are able to participate if they are not pregnant. You are not required to have a vaginal yeast infection. You will be asked to take various biological samples and answer questionnaires over a one month period.