Yeast is a fungus typically found living in the vagina in small, manageable numbers. A vaginal yeast infection occurs when too many yeast cells are growing in the vagina, causing problems that, while bothersome, are usually not serious if treated immediately. Infection is usually caused by a type of yeast called Candida Albicans. Treatment is simple for a mild yeast infection, and the first step is identifying the problem and considering some of the causes of yeast infections.
There are several signs that indicate a yeast infection may be occurring. Symptoms include:
- Itchiness and Soreness: The first indicator is itchiness, soreness, and general discomfort in the vaginal area. Pain or burning may occur during urination or during sex.
- Discharge: Some women may experience thick, white, often clumpy discharge that is odorless and may resemble cottage cheese.
If you experience any of these symptoms, you may be experiencing a yeast infection, and treatment is absolutely necessary.
There are many causes of vaginal yeast infections resulting from the overgrowth of yeast organisms. Causes include:
- High estrogen levels, hyperestrogenemia (often experienced during pregnancy) certain usage of birth control, and hormone therapy
- Using antibiotics that change the balance of organisms in the vagina
- Being overweight
- High blood sugar levels, often present in individuals with diabetes – particularly if not maintained well
- Possessing an impaired immune system
- Use of corticosteroids like prednisone
As you can see, there are several issues that may cause yeast infections in the vagina. Fortunately, there are many treatment options that may be used to correct the problem and return your vagina to a healthy state.
There are many options for treating a yeast infection. Like with many health issues that may arise, prevention through healthy vaginal care is always the best option.
Healthy vaginal care includes keeping your vaginal area clean, particularly during pregnancy when yeast infections are more common. Use unscented soap without harsh chemicals and be sure to rinse thoroughly. When using the toilet, wipe front to back to avoid spreading yeast or bacteria from the anus into the vaginal area. Be sure to wear clothing that allows your vaginal area to breathe without holding in warmth and moisture. Always change tampons or pads frequently. Avoid douche or deodorant tampons and feminine sprays/scented items. These products change the normal balance of organisms in your vagina, which may cause problems.
With all that being said, if symptoms have already begun to show, there are solutions that will correct the problem.
First, if you’ve had a yeast infection before and know the symptoms well enough, you may be able to diagnose and treat yourself without the need of visiting a doctor and using prescription medication. There are several over the counter treatment options specifically formulated to treat yeast infections without the need of visiting a gynecologist or general practitioner. Antifungal options are available in the way of creams or suppositories used directly with the vagina or tablets that may be swallowed. When treating the condition with creams or suppositories, it is recommended to take care with birth control, as the oil used in some of these options weakens the latex commonly used in condoms and diaphragms. Often times, abstaining from sex during a yeast infection is crucial to treatment, particularly if the symptoms are severe. Remember that antifungal creams and suppositories are known to have fewer side effects than antifungal pills or capsules taken by mouth. This is due to the fact that vaginal medication isn’t absorbed by the rest of the body and only treats the affected area.
Another thing to keep in mind is that mild conditions may also clear up on their own without the need of medications. Maintaining a healthy diet and cleaning routine is very important, especially during this time. A common natural remedy used is drinking cranberry juice to acidify vaginal secretions to treat the condition. There are also vitamins and supplements that may be taken to assist your body in naturally treating the condition without the use of over the counter or prescription medication.
If you have recurrent yeast infections, recurring within two months of treatment or four times a year, or if your symptoms are severe, you may need to see a doctor. It is possible that additional treatment or other options such as prescription medication may be required. Certain considerations need to be taken as well; such as pregnancy or pre-existing medical conditions. Depending on these considerations, a doctor may recommend more frequent visits to a professional gynecologist for treatment and vaginal health monitoring.
Vaginal cleaning is important, particularly during an infection, and needs to be maintained regularly and thoroughly as part of a healthy routine whether or not you have an active infection. As mentioned previously, prevention is the best form of protection against yeast infections. Keeping a habit of proper cleaning of the vaginal area during every bath or shower will go a long way in maintaining the health of your vagina and avoiding yeast infections altogether.
Choosing a Regular Doctor
Having a regular doctor or gynecologist is crucial to maintaining vaginal health as well as sustaining comfort in sharing details about changes in your vaginal health. Many women prefer licensed, female gynecologists that can understand their situations and concerns on a personal level. Gyn-Emergent care will satisfy your needs for comfort in all areas of diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of problems that may arise in vaginal health.