What do You Know About Vaginal Yeast Infections?
Different circumstances may favor the excessive growth of Candida Albicans colonies. Keep reading to find out even more about vaginal yeast infections.
What you may not know about vaginal yeast infections is that they’re caused by a fungus within the Candida genus. One of the most common species responsible for these infections is Candida albicans.
This fungus is usually found in different areas of the body such as the skin, mouth, gastrointestinal tract, and vagina. However, it’s found in smaller amounts in certain places. It does not cause infection if the quantities remain at a healthy level.
Nevertheless, various circumstances may favor the excessive growth of Candida albicans colonies. As a result, a woman can develop a vaginal yeast infection if she has excessive fungal growth in the vulva or vaginal areas.
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All About Vaginal Yeast Infections
It is estimated that 75% of women will develop a vaginal yeast infection at least once in their life. If you don’t take care of this issue, it can end up affecting your quality of life.
Anywhere from 20 to 50% of women have Candida albicans inside their vaginas, although this does not always mean that they have an infection.
When vaginal conditions are normal, there are often no symptoms of Candida. This is thanks to the acidic pH of the vagina, the immune system, and the presence of a balanced vaginal flora. As a result, all of these factors help prevent the fungus from reproducing excessively.
However, if excessive colonization of this fungus occurs, a woman may experience an imbalance in the vaginal flora, resulting in a yeast infection.
Did you know that vaginal yeast infections can affect up to 75% of women at some point in their life?
Also, in 5% of cases, the infection can become recurring and manifest four or more times a year. Undoubtedly, this can drastically affect a woman’s quality of life.
The risk factors for vulvovaginal candidiasis
Some of the risk factors of yeast infections include:
- Diabetes and poorly controlled blood-sugar levels.
- Recent antibiotic treatment: antibiotics unbalance the flora because they kill bacteria, but not fungi.
- Hormonal changes.
- Immunosuppression due to illness or treatment.
On the other hand, it’s not a good idea to wear very tight clothes or leave on wet bathing suits for longer than necessary.
You should also keep in mind that certain hygiene products can disrupt the natural pH of the vagina and therefore should be avoided. These kinds of products include certain soaps, douches, and intimate perfumes.
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Yeast infections may cause symptoms such as alterations in vaginal discharge, irritation, itching, and a burning sensation. These signs can affect both the inside and the outside of the vagina.
In many cases, there is also pain during urination and discomfort or pain when having sex. However, other symptoms can appear such as swelling and redness of the vulva, scratching injuries, and the presence of a lumpy, virtually odorless, and whitish discharge.
How to Identify a Vaginal Yeast Infection
The symptoms of a vaginal yeast infection may be similar to those of other infections in the intimate area. However, you may be able to distinguish a yeast infection by the texture and smell of your vaginal discharge.
Other vaginal infections are relatively common in women. They can be distinguished by the consistency and smell of the vaginal discharge. Some of these infections include:
This infection is caused by an alteration in the vaginal microbiota due to bacterial species such as Gardnerella vaginalis, Prevotella, and Bacteroides.
Bacterial vaginosis is common during pregnancy as well as in women who use intrauterine devices (IUD) or douches, or those who are suffering from stress or hormonal changes.
Bacterial vaginosis often results in a distinguishable vaginal discharge that has a strong, fishy smell and a white or grayish, viscous consistency.
This infection is caused by Trichomonas vaginalis and is a sexually transmitted infection (STI). Women who are suffering from this condition most often have vaginal discharge with a very unusual and foul smell. The consistency is foamy, transparent, white, yellowish or greenish.
Treatment of Vaginal Yeast Infections
For this particular condition, there are both topical treatments and oral medications. Topical treatment consists of applying a vaginal cream with 2% clotrimazole or inserting a 100 and 500mg clotrimazole vaginal suppository.
Also, specific combinations of probiotics can help aid the treatment of or prevent a vaginal yeast infection. Furthermore, you can use either vaginal or oral versions of these antibiotics.
Moreover, there are antifungal pills you can take by mouth. The most common ones are fluconazole and itraconazole. However, these drugs may have side effects such as nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. Also, they can affect liver function.
More About Yeast Infections: Hygiene and Prevention
To help prevent vaginal yeast infections, you can take the following hygienic steps:
- Take probiotics when taking antibiotics.
- Maintain proper intimate hygiene. Avoid moisture and dry the area well.
- Always clean the genital and anal area from front to back.
- Change sanitary napkins (pads) and tampons frequently. Don’t use tampons if you already have a yeast infection.
- Wear cotton underwear.
If you’re currently getting treated for a vaginal yeast infection, take extra preventative measures during sexual intercourse. It’s also recommended that all sexual partners be treated for the infection, as well.