Vaginal yeast infection, also known as candidiasis, is a common fungal infection. It is often assumed to be a sexually transmitted infection; however, that is not the case. The female body contains yeast known as candida. When the yeast is out of balance in the body, you will likely get a vaginal yeast infection. Some factors can lead to infection, but it is essential to remember that it is common and treatable.
Candida is a normal microorganism in the vagina. A certain bacteria known as lactobacillus helps to keep its growth under control. However, when there is an imbalance in your system, the bacteria can fail to maintain their growth. This leads to an overgrowth of yeast which causes vaginal yeast infection. Anyone with a vagina can get the infection, but some factors make it easier for you to contract it. These factors include:
Anything that causes a hormonal imbalance in your body can easily lead to an imbalance of candida in the vagina. This includes pregnancy, menstruation and taking birth control pills.
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Antibiotics treat infections but can also decrease the amount of lactobacillus in the vagina. With no bacteria to help control the growth, the body will likely experience a yeast imbalance, leading to vaginal yeast infection.
High blood sugar levels cause the body to excrete extra sugar in the urine. This causes candida to feed off the sugar, which leads to overgrowth.
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Weakened Immune System
Diseases that weaken your immune system, like HIV/AIDS and cancer, increase the risk of getting a vaginal yeast infection. The medications and treatment methods like chemotherapy and radiation also make it challenging to treat the infection, and they can also cause a recurrence of the infection.
Signs and Symptoms
The symptoms of vaginal yeast infection are never the same for everybody. There are likely chances that you may also not experience symptoms but have the infection. Here are common symptoms of the infection:
- Redness and swelling of your vagina and vulva.
- Itching and irritation in the vagina and on the vulva.
- A thick white discharge from the vagina that is odourless and looks like cottage cheese.
- A burning sensation while urinating or during sexual intercourse.
- Vaginal soreness.
- Minor cuts on the vulva due to fragile skin in the area.
Symptoms of vaginal yeast infection are usually similar to the symptoms of sexually transmitted infections (STI). Therefore, if you experience the symptoms, it is essential to go for a checkup. The doctor will take a sample of your discharge and run some tests to determine whether it is a vaginal yeast infection. If it is, the doctor will prescribe an antifungal medicine which will be able to fight the yeast overgrowth.
Over-the-counter medicines and natural remedies like tea tree oil cream, coconut oil and garlic can also help to treat the symptoms. However, it is essential to note that natural remedies may not be as effective as medical treatment. Over-the-counter medicines only come in handy when you know precisely what you are dealing with. If you are unsure, seek medical advice first to avoid purchasing the wrong medication.
Vaginal yeast infections mostly clear up after a few days or a week if you are on medication. Severe cases take a bit longer, but it is best to be patient with your medication. Also, a vaginal yeast infection cannot clear up on its own. The only way to ensure the overgrowth is treated is through medical treatment.
There are various lifestyle changes that you can make to prevent vaginal yeast infections. These changes include:
- Avoiding scented pads or tampons.
- Wearing loose-fitting clothes and cotton underwear.
- Keeping your blood sugar at an optimum level if you have diabetes.
- Avoiding the use of feminine deodorants.
- Changing out of wet and sweaty clothes, especially after working out or swimming.
- Not douching.
- Avoiding hot tubs and taking long baths.
- Washing your underwear with hot water.
- Eating a well-balanced diet daily.
- Frequently taking plain yoghurt and supplements with lactobacillus.
If you get a vaginal yeast infection more than once, you should consult your doctor for a checkup. This can also help to prevent more cases of infection in the future.
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