Also known as candidiasis, vaginal yeast infection is a common and treatable occurrence for many women. Usually, it is driven by an overgrowth of the fungus called Candida albicans, which is a type of yeast that already exists in the vagina. Experts claim that 75% of women will suffer from this issue at least once in their lives, and many of them will have recurrent infections. This issue can be caused by various factors, such as hormonal changes, pregnancy, diabetes, diet, and the use of certain medications.
If you are struggling with frequent yeast infections and are feeling hopeless, do not worry, you are not alone. We urge you to schedule an appointment with our gynecologist in Sarasota, FL, who will help you solve it fast. Our talented team of experts at University Park OBGYN will make you feel at ease while providing you with the highest quality of care. Read on to learn how to treat yeast infections successfully.
Although it might feel unbearable and highly uncomfortable at times, it is easy to recognize the signs of yeast infection. The most common ones include the following:
- Thick or clumpy, white or yellow discharge that has an unpleasant smell
- Vaginal itching
- Soreness and pain
- Burning sensation during intercourse
- Vaginal rash
- Swelling around vagina
- Pain while urinating
You will be more prone to this illness if you:
- Are pregnant – Hormonal changes disrupt the usual balance of bacteria in your vagina, ending in a more favorable condition for Candida albicans to thrive in. Pregnancy also raises your chance of gestational diabetes, which can be bad for those who have already had yeast infections.
- Have an autoimmune disease such as HIV or lupus – If your immune system is debilitated, your body’s natural protection against infections is not as powerful. It is less likely to fight off harmful microorganisms, such as the fungus that forces the above-mentioned condition.
- Have uncontrolled diabetes – Women with diabetes are more prone to getting an infection because of elevated sugar levels that are being excreted in the urine, leading to increased levels of sugar in the genital region. This creates a humid environment that Candida loves the most.
If you notice more extreme symptoms, such as itching that ends in cracks or tears, extensive redness, high fever, and difficulty breathing, call your healthcare provider as soon as possible. If you suffer from more than three yeast infections per year, you should do that also.
As mentioned before, the most common reason why women get vaginal yeast infections is the overgrowth of the fungus Candida albicans. However, many factors can disrupt the natural balance of bacteria and yeast in the vagina and lead to this condition. These factors include the use of antibiotics, poor hygiene, douching, hormonal changes, diabetes, pregnancy, tight clothing, a weakened immune system, certain diseases and medications, and lifestyle choices.
You will need a physical and pelvic exam at your gynecologist’s office to get a diagnosis. It is usually easy to diagnose it, especially if you have had one before. That is why it’s essential to talk with your doctor about your medical history so they can find the main trigger and rule out other potential causes. They will check your cervix, vaginal walls, and vulva to find signs of yeast infection. Depending on what they find, the next step will be to do lab tests to confirm whether you have it or not. In some cases, your gynecologist will do additional testing to make sure that it is not a sexually transmitted infection instead.
See a healthcare provider for a proper diagnosis of vaginal yeast infection is essential. Self-diagnosis and self-treatment can be risky, as a professional must confirm a confirmed diagnosis.
Antifungal medications, both over-the-counter and prescription, are available to treat yeast infections. If yours is mild, your doctor will probably prescribe a short-course regimen of antifungal creme, ointment, or a suppository. These are called:
- Miconazole (Monistat)
- Clotrimazole (Lotrimin)
- Terconazole (Terazol)
- Butocoanazole (Gynazole)
If yeast infection symptoms are more severe, your trusted gynecologist will likely prescribe an oral antifungal tablet such as Diflucan in combination with topical ointments. This kind of treatment is not recommended if you are pregnant. Sometimes, women need to undergo a few courses of therapy to get rid of the fungus completely. It is essential to follow the full course of treatment as specified, even if signs of yeast infection have vanished, to ensure that the infection is fully cured. If you notice the condition again after a few months, visit your healthcare provider to get it checked.
In addition to medical treatment, you can try some home remedies that may alleviate signs of yeast infection. These include:
- Boric acid/suppositories
- Apple cider vinegar
- Tea tree oil
It is important to note that none of these have been scientifically proven and should not be used as a substitute for prescribed therapy.
To prevent the occurrence of vaginal yeast infections, you can take several steps. Look at the following tips:
- Choose breathable underwear – The point of this is to keep your lady parts dry. Therefore, cotton underwear is the best choice. Many women like sleeping without underwear as it helps them with infections and overall discomfort.
- Wiping – Make sure to always wipe from front to back to avoid spreading anal bacteria to your vagina or urinary tract.
- Pads and tampons – It is good to frequently change them as old blood contains a lot of bacteria.
- Don’t douche – The best way to wash your vagina and vulva is simply with warm water. Scented soaps and douches can mess with your PH and disrupt the natural balance of bacteria, leading to infections.
- Change out of your swimsuit – Bacteria and fungi thrive in wet environments, so it is a must to wear dry clothes after swimming or working out.
- Don’t overuse antibiotics – Many people tend to do so even if they have a minor cold or fever. Antibiotics can’t help with viruses, so using them is redundant and creates havoc in your gut and urogenital system.
- Eat probiotic-rich foods – By eating foods that naturally contain gut-friendly bacteria, you are helping not only your intestines but your vagina as well. Supplementing with probiotics is a good idea as well.
- Avoid taking hot baths – Take a shower instead of soaking in a hot tub, as these can hold bacteria and make your infection worse.
In conclusion, a vaginal yeast infection is a common type of illness that is caused by an overgrowth of the fungus Candida. It can be treated by over-the-counter or prescription antifungal medications. To avoid getting it, it is necessary to practice good hygiene, dodge using scented soaps and products, and wear breathable clothing. Do not be ashamed or hopeless if you have persistent infections, as they can be caused by various factors, and it can be hard to pinpoint which one exactly is causing it. If you believe you might have it, reach your gynecologist and schedule an appointment to get a proper diagnosis and treatment. Of course, don’t hesitate to call us at University Park OBGYN for inquiries on how to treat yeast infections successfully.