Yeast infections are quite common. In fact, 3 in 4 women have a yeast infection at some point in their lives. They could even happen more than once.
What causes these pesky infections?
Are there ways to avoid them?
How do you treat the infection once you have it?
Find the answers to these questions and more below.
Yeast infections originate in the natural bacteria and fungi that live in your vagina. Most of the time, these organisms stay in balance and you don’t experience any unpleasant symptoms. However, occasionally there can be an imbalance.
One cause of this imbalance is your immune system. A lack of sleep, too much stress or poor dietary habits can also contribute to yeast infections. Poorly controlled diabetes and antibiotic usage are other factors as both of these situations involve your natural defenses breaking down.
Pregnant women, as well as women who take a birth control pill, may be more likely to get yeast infections.
Another common cause of yeast infections is wearing clothing or underwear that is too tight or wet. For example, women who swim increase their risk of infections if they stay in a wet swimsuit for too long. If your clothing is wet, it’s best to change into something dry as soon as possible.
A white, thick discharge similar to cottage cheese or watery discharge are 2 of the most common symptoms. Sometimes, this discharge might have an unpleasant odor. Itching or irritation in the vaginal or vulvar regions is common, as well as burning during urination or sex.
In addition to these symptoms, your vaginal and vulvar areas may experience redness and swelling. You may also have soreness in this area.
To treat an infection, your gynecologist will usually perform a pelvic exam and ask you a few questions. Sometimes a swab test is used for laboratory confirmation. With a swab test, your treatment options will be even more on target because you’ll know the exact fungi or bacteria that’s out of alignment.
The majority of yeast infections are easy for doctors to treat with minimal problems. Sometimes, pills can effectively stop the infection. Anti-fungal suppositories, prescriptions and over-the-counter creams may also be helpful in treating a yeast infection.
Before starting yeast infection treatment, you’ll want to get a confirmed diagnosis because there are other types of infections that can cause similar symptoms. If you use yeast infection medication when that isn’t your problem, your symptoms may worsen.
Some women have regular problems with yeast infections that happen 4 or more times yearly. You will need to undergo a longer course of treatment when this happens. If you have recurrent infections, your doctor can come up with a maintenance plan for you.
The longer you wait to treat a yeast infection, the harder it will be to bring it under control. Sometimes, these symptoms will lead to what is known as a “complicated yeast infection.” When your infection is complicated, the symptoms will be more severe.
Tearing or cracking of the skin may appear. These symptoms are not only uncomfortable but can lead to more serious infections that require stronger treatment. However, taking stronger treatments over a long time can decrease the effectiveness of the medications.
Prompt treatment can prevent these types of issues.
Visit your OB/GYN if you suspect you have a yeast infection. Regardless of whether you're dealing with a yeast infection or a bacterial infection with similar symptoms, you can be sure of getting the care that you need at All About Women in North Florida.