All you need to Know about Vaginal Yeast Infection
Date: December 20th, 2021
Usually, a healthy vagina has yeast. However, sometimes the yeast can excessively grow and lead to yeast infection. Vaginal yeast infections are a common sexual problem globally, affecting over 1 million women in America alone.
From the family of vaginitis, this infection is caused by a special type of yeast known as candida. Though it is not considered a sexually transmitted infection, sexual contact can spread it. In this article, we have outlined everything you need to know about vaginal yeast infection. Read on for more.
What is vaginal yeast infection?
Also known as vulvovaginal candidiasis, vaginal yeast infection is a sexual condition of the vagina characterized by itching, redness, burning, and colorless discharge from the vulva and vagina.
This problem is caused by already existing things in your body called the fungal body, or candida. Yeast is a form of fungus in the body, while candida is the specific yeast causing the infection.
There are no problems when the yeast is balanced with the vaginal ecosystem. However, when there is a disruption with the balance, the yeast starts to grow fast, causing the infection. This infection is a type of vaginitis-a vagina condition characterized by a painful and swollen vagina that produces a white discharge.
There are many types of vaginitis, each with the same symptoms, but vaginal yeast infection is among the most common ones.
What is candida?
While this may come as a surprise, there are many fungi living in different parts of our bodies. One such fungus, especially yeast living in the mouth, digestive tract, and vagina, is the candida.
Commonly, candida is supposed to be in the body and does not cause a problem. However, a balance needs to be maintained regularly, and if it goes either way, you can get sick.
There are various problems you can develop in case candida is tossed off balance. If the fungus appears on the mouth, it is referred to as mouth thrush. When it occurs in the vagina, it is called a vaginal yeast infection.
Reasons why vaginal yeast infections happen.
As mentioned before, the chemical imbalance in the vagina can make candida to multiply. This can be linked to several factors, including,
- When pregnant, or you have been using birth control pills. During the gestation period, the hormones increase to a level that can affect the chemical balance in the vagina.
- When you are under antibiotic medication for the treatment of any kind of infection like UTIs. In such instances, good bacteria in the vagina get killed by the drug. Good bacteria are responsible for maintaining the balance, and without it, there are high chances of developing a yeast infection.
- When you are diagnosed with diabetes. If you have diabetes, there is excess sugar in the urine. This sugar affects the candida balance in the vagina.
- Weak immune system. Suffering from diseases like HIV/AIDS means a weakened body immunity from the powerful medications.
Symptoms of vaginal yeast infections.
While itchiness and discomfort are the primary symptoms of the infection, there are many other telltale signs, including,
Redness, swelling, and burning of the vagina and the outer parts of the vagina, vulva.
- Burning or pain when urinating.
- A white, odorless discharge.
- Pain during sex.
If you suspect having a yeast infection, consult your doctor before you start treatments. The infection presents symptoms that are similar to STDs and bacterial vaginosis. An accurate and professional diagnosis is needed for the best treatment plan.
Yeast infection causes.
There are several ways through which you can get yeast infections, including;
- Antibiotic treatment. This reduces the number of good bacteria or lactobacillus in the vagina.
- Hormonal imbalance towards menstrual cycle.
- Weak immune system.
A particular type of yeast called Candida Albicans is responsible for most of the yeast infections. However, the infections are highly curable.
But if you constantly get yeast infections or have not got success with the conventional treatment methods, then another variant might be the cause. In this case, a lab test can be ideal to find the specific candida species.
Vaginal yeast infection diagnosis.
Diagnosis of this infection is simple and straightforward. First, the doctor will inquire about your medical history, which includes whether you have been affected by the infection before. Also, they will ask about your STD status and history.
The second step involves doing a pelvic scan. The doctor will examine the pelvic area, including the cervix and vaginal walls, and check the outer area for any signs of infections.
Based on what the doctor will find from the assessment, the next step is to collect cells from the vagina. These specimens are then taken to the lab for tests. Usually, lab tests are booked for women with recurring infections or infections that keep recurring.
Treatment of yeast infection.
Different types of yeast infections have a special kind of treatment. Basically, treatments are designed based on the severity of the infection. So, based on the test results, the doctor will know the kind of infection you have and provide a treatment plan appropriately.
There are two types of infections that will determine the treatment plan.
For simple yeast infections, your doctor may recommend a 1-6 day plan of an ointment, antifungal cream, suppository, or tablets. These drugs can be bought over-the-counter or found in prescription.
Some common medications for simple yeast infections include;
- Clotrimazole (Lotrimin).
- Butoconazole (Gynazole)
- Miconazole. (Moniostat)
- Fluconazole (Diflucan)
After finishing your treatment regime, follow up with your doctor to confirm if the medicine has worked. If the symptoms reoccur after two months, then seek specialized lab tests for further treatment.
The doctor will consider your infection as a complicated or severe case when;
- There is severe swelling, redness, and itching that causes sores and tears in the vaginal tissues.
- You are pregnant.
- You’ve had four vaginal yeast infections in one year.
- You have uncontrolled diabetes and HIV.
- Weak immune system from the treatment of other infections.
Common treatments for severe yeast infection include,
- 14-day ointment, cream, tablets, and vaginal suppository treatments.
- Fluconazole prescription is to be taken once every week for six weeks and long-term application of a topical antifungal ointment.
- Two to three doses of Diflucan (Fluconazole).
When you or your partner is treating yeast infection, then you need to use barrier methods anytime you are having sex. Consult your doctor about the treatment options available after diagnosis.
Home remedy options for yeast infections.
Though they may not be as reliable and effective as the medications mentioned above, there are different home remedy alternatives you can use if you don't want to take prescribed medicines.
Common home remedies for yeast infections include;
- Tea tree oil cream.
- Coconut oil.
- Boric acid vaginal suppositories.
- Pure yogurt consumed orally or placed in the vagina.
Ensure your hands are cleaned before applying the creams to your vagina. Also, it is essential to discuss your intentions of resorting to home remedies with your doctor since the problem might be something more serious than just a mere yeast infection, and the doctor can help diagnose that.
Besides, inform the doctor if you have been under certain medications and want to shift to home remedies. This is necessary because some drugs react with natural remedies and can lead to unintended medical complications.
Prevention of yeast infections.
It is likely that you always know the causes of your yeast infection. For instance, some will experience it when using antibiotics, while they'll occur in others when pregnant.
Regardless of whether you can point out the exact cause, here are tips you should try to prevent the infection and some you need to avoid.
Try the following tricks to prevent vaginal yeast infections;
- Eat a balanced diet.
- Eat foods that are rich in lactobacillus, like yogurt.
- Washing your underwear with hot water.
- Wearing clothes made of natural fibers like linen, cotton, or silk.
- Replacing any women products most of the time.
On the contrary, avoid the following to prevent getting yeast infections;
- Using perfumed or scented tampons or pads.
- Wearing tight or fitting pants or leggings.
- Take too much time in a bathtub or regular use of bathtubs.
- Wearing wet bathing suits.
Vaginal yeast infections are a common occurrence in most women across the world. It is a fungal infection caused by a yeast fungus called candida and is characterized by swelling, redness, burning of the vagina and vulva, and white odorless discharge.
When candida appears most on the mouth, it is referred to as mouth rush, but when it occurs in the vagina, it is termed as a vaginal yeast infection. Fortunately, the infection is treatable based on the severity or level of complication.
Moreover, there are home remedies you can use to treat the infection. Above all, consult your doctor for a comprehensive diagnosis and relevant treatment options.