Understanding what causes chronic yeast infections and how to treat them is crucial for optimal health and a speedy recovery. This expert-approved article outlines and explains everything you need to know about having a recurrent or chronic vaginal yeast infection, including the most common causes, symptoms, and possible treatment methods. While you can get a yeast infection at any point in life, certain factors can increase your chances. 

Before understanding what causes chronic yeast infections and what treatment options are best for you, we recommend seeking out the help of a trained medical professional. If you are in the area or you are looking for the best, we suggest consulting a sexual health specialist in Miami.

What is a Vaginal Yeast Infection?

A yeast infection is a common fungal infection that can cause unusual vaginal discharge, intense itching and discomfort of the vulva and vagina, and irritation. Technically, this condition is called “vaginal candidiasis.” On average, three out of four women will have this condition at least once in her life. A lot of patients experience a minimum of two vaginal yeast infection episodes and they can occur during any stage of life.

How and why do these infections happen? Overall, it happens when there is an overgrowth of a fungus called candida Albicans. This fungus naturally lives in the body in small amounts. Candida albicans is present in the intestines, the skin, and the mouth as well, which, again, is normal. Candida infections occur when this small amount of fungus overgrows. When candida is out of balance, the yeast will begin to overgrow and cause candidiasis or an infection. 

Can we refer to candida Albicans as an infection? In some ways, yes. Candida albicans is a type of yeast that lives in the human body. As mentioned, when it is “off-balance,” it can overgrow and lead to an infection. If you have any additional questions or concerns about your health, make sure to reach out to New Age Women’s Health.

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Causes of Chronic Yeast Infections

If you have four or more yeast infections per year, this technically meets the definition of a chronic yeast infection. There are a few chronic infection causes to be mindful of. Here are some of the most common causes.

Firstly, chronic infection happens when you have a variation or an imbalance of vaginal bacteria. These are beneficial bacteria that stop candida Albicans from overgrowing. However, if you take antibiotics or use vaginal douches, you may remove too much of the beneficial bacteria, which can cause yeast to overgrow.

For optimal health, your body requires a balance of beneficial microorganisms. In many cases, foods that contain active cultures and probiotic supplements can help restore healthy levels. 

Candida albicans usually thrive in wet conditions such as saliva or sweat. So, if you lack normal hygiene practices, such as brushing your teeth daily or taking regular showers, you can get chronic yeast infections.

Patients with a weak immune system are also more likely to experience chronic yeast infections. Some of the following factors contribute to a weak immune system:

  • Certain health conditions
  • Certain medications
  • Advanced age

Overall, these are the most common reasons why there is yeast overgrowth in your body:

  • Uncontrollable diabetes
  • A weak or inadequate immune system
  • Antibiotic use (can disrupt the normal vaginal flora)
  • Pregnancy
  • Infection with a particular type of yeast that is hard to treat or does not respond to common treatments 

Vaginal Yeast Infection Symptoms

Yeast overgrowth can come with a wide array of uncomfortable symptoms. So, what are the most common vaginal yeast infection symptoms? Some of the most frequent signs that you have an infection include the following:

  • Vaginal soreness or pain
  • Swelling of the vulva or redness
  • Burning sensations, usually while urinating or having sexual intercourse
  • Irritation or itching of the vulva and the vagina
  • Vaginal rash
  • Watery and unusual vaginal discharge
  • Odor-free vaginal discharge that is thick, white, and resembles cottage cheese

Whether you are experiencing an uncomfortable vaginal rash or vaginal soreness, it is essential to seek out medical help and guidance. A trusted OB-GYN will provide you with all of the necessary information for a fast recovery. Remember that a vaginal yeast infection is not an STI or sexually transmitted infection. However, the symptoms outlined above (such as a vaginal rash) can be symptoms of an STI. Make sure to get tested regularly, especially if you are sexually active, not using condoms, and if you are regularly switching sexual partners (or you have a new partner). Vaginal yeast infection symptoms can be extremely uncomfortable and troublesome. They typically range from mild to moderate. Fortunately, with proper treatment, you can get rid of the vaginal yeast infection symptoms for good.

How to Treat a Vaginal Yeast Infection

After receiving a proper diagnosis (which includes gathering information about medical history and undergoing a pelvic exam), the medical expert will provide the best treatment options for you. The good news is that treatment for chronic yeast infection is available and often effective, but can sometimes take several weeks or months to treat. If you are dealing with mild to moderate signs of infection and it is not chronic, your healthcare provider may suggest the following:

  • Single-dose oral medication such as fluconazole or Diflucan.
  • Short-course vaginal therapy (including antifungal medications such as ointments, suppositories, creams, and tablets, as well as terconazole and miconazole).

Patients with chronic infections may be recommended:

  • Multidose oral medication
  • Azole-resistant therapy (boric acid inserted in capsule form into the vagina)
  • Long-course vaginal therapy (for several weeks or months)
  • Newly available medications intended to treat resistant forms of Candida albicans

Can I Prevent Chronic Yeast Infections?

Prevention is your best option. Here are some ways to make sure that you don’t have to deal with chronic or acute yeast infections of the vagina:

  • Wear cotton, loose-fitting underwear.
  • Do not wear tight-fitting clothes or pantyhose.
  • Refrain from douching, as this can eliminate the healthy bacteria in your vagina responsible for combating infection.
  • Do not stay in hot tubs for too long.
  • Avoid scented feminine products like tampons, pads, and bubble baths.
  • If you can, avoid antibiotic use.
  • Never stay in wet clothes for a long time.
  • Take care of your hygiene.

We also recommend staying on track with your doctor’s appointments. Visiting your OB-GYN regularly is even more critical for sexually active women. If you are having sexual intercourse without a condom, you may also be at risk of STIs. Make sure to check in with your healthcare professional at a reliable clinic to get tested early and receive proper treatment as soon as possible. Make sure that your partner gets tested as well.

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Give Us a Call Today

Yeast infections of the vagina, especially chronic infections, can be troublesome and outright frustrating. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be that way! Reach out to the best professionals in your area and get expert help today. Choose New Age Women’s Health and get started now.