Up to 75% of all women are affected by a vaginal yeast infection at some point, with many experiencing multiple occurrences over their lifetimes. Knowing what symptoms to watch for, and which yeast infection treatment to use, can keep the infection from lingering.
Normally, a small number of yeast fungus cells live in your vagina, along with other helpful bacteria. Lactobacillus acidophilus bacteria generate acid that inhibits the overpopulation of yeast. Significant imbalances in these yeast-limiting bacteria is what can cause a yeast infection.
If you are experiencing yeast infection symptoms, schedule an appointment with your gynecologist to make sure it is not a symptom of a larger health issue.
Yeast Infection Symptoms
Vaginal yeast infection are a form of vaginitis—an inflammation of your vagina and the labial folds of your vulva. Symptoms include:
- Itching, pain, or soreness around the vaginal opening
- Swelling or redness of the vulva
- Burning sensations during urination or sexual intercourse
- Thick, clumpy, odorless vaginal discharge that is white, yellow or green
- Odor often described as similar to “bread dough or baking bread”
If you are experiencing yeast infection symptoms, consult with your gynecologist before attempting to treat the infection on your own. These symptoms are often similar to other vaginal infections and sexually transmitted diseases, so make sure you get an official diagnosis.
Yeast Infection Causes
Because yeast infections are caused by a bacterial imbalance, anything that upsets the normal pH of your vagina can be the cause of your discomfort. Try to mitigate or avoid some of these yeast infection triggers to help keep you in balance:
Low estrogen levels due to menopause, pregnancy, your menstrual cycle, hormone therapy, birth control pills, or gestational diabetes can disrupt your vagina’s bacterial balance. Talk to your gynecologist about ways to stabilize your hormone levels.
Antibiotics kill good bacteria along with the bad and can decrease the lactobacillus bacteria that protect your vagina. Taking probiotics can help you avoid yeast infections caused by certain antibiotics.
High Blood Sugar
Yeast thrives on sugar, which it needs to grow and multiply. High blood sugar levels, like those found in cases of uncontrolled diabetes, can cause an overpopulation of yeast in your vagina.
Douching with vinegar or other acidic properties is doubly damaging. It kills the protective bacteria in your vagina, causing a pH unbalance. In addition, if you are already suffering from a yeast infection, douching can push the infection up into your uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries, causing pelvic inflammatory disease.
Semen has its own pH balance that can affect your vaginal flora and change your vagina’s bacterial balance. If you get yeast infections after sex regularly, condoms may help protect your natural pH.
Preventing Yeast Infections
There are precautions you can take to reduce the likelihood of yeast infections from occurring:
- Wear cotton underwear and loose, breathable skirts or pants and avoid pantyhose
- Avoid douches, feminine hygiene sprays, scented tampons or sanitary pads, and bubble bath
- Wipe from front to back after using the toilet
- Remove damp clothes and shower immediately after swimming or exercising
- Avoid hot baths and hot tubs
- Limit your sugar consumption
- Add yogurt containing live “lactobacillus acidophilus” in your diet
Recurring yeast infections can be an indication of a larger health issue. Consult with your gynecologist if you have more than two yeast infections a year, or if the above precautions are not reducing the number of yeast infections you experience.
Yeast Infection Treatment
Consult with your gynecologist before using over-the-counter treatments for yeast infections. Three, five, and seven day creams and suppositories are available. To make sure you do not have an allergic reaction to the treatment, always test the creams first on a small area of the inside of your arm.
If you do not experience relief with over-the-counter creams and suppositories, your gynecologist can prescribe an oral anti-fungal like Diflucan to ease your symptoms.
Whether you are having your first yeast infection symptoms or experiencing a recurring infection, visit your gynecologist to make sure you are correctly diagnosing and treating your symptoms.
If your symptoms are accompanied by abdominal pain or fever, see your gynecologist immediately. These are indicators of possible pelvic inflammatory disease, which can cause severe health problems, permanent scar tissue and infertility.
If you have symptoms or questions about yeast infection treatment, contact The Woman’s Clinic at 501.222.4175 to schedule an appointment. Since the 1930’s, our P.A. board certified physicians have provided state-of-the-art care for women in a comfortable, caring, and private setting.