VAGINAL YEAST INFECTION.A vaginal yeast infection is known as many things – itchy, irritating, a bit gross – but one thing it should not be is obscure. It is actually a common infection that affects about 75% of women at any one point in their lives and the most annoying thing is that the fungus often comes back even after it’s been cured. Not to worry though, this isn’t the end of the world.
Have you the saying that if you know your enemy and know yourself, you don’t need to fear the result of a hundred battles? To help you fight this war against this particularly stubborn infection, you must arm yourself with a little information.
Let us begin.
First of all, What Exactly is a Yeast Infection?
Before we proceed, you should know what exactly a yeast or vaginal yeast infection is. The major culprit that causes vaginal yeast infections is the fungus Candida albicans which is naturally present in your body. Now before you start freaking out, here’s a fun fact: Candida is normally present in the vagina of about 20% to 50% of women. It is when the balance of yeast and bacteria breaks, that the yeast cells multiply and result in swelling, irritation and some pretty intense itching. Ouch!
How Do You Know You are Infected?
There are a few things that might seem pretty wrong in your nether regions if you are infected. To start with, you may experience genital or vaginal itching, soreness around your vagina and swelling. It might even burn when your pee or during sex and both your vagina and the surrounding area may become inflamed or breakout rashes.
Another symptom is the clumpy and whitish-grey discharge. For some women, the discharge may be watery.
Just keep in mind that the longer you go without treating a vaginal yeast infection, the worse it will become.
What Causes Vaginal Yeast Infections.
Before we go to the treatment, let’s take a look at the things that cause vaginal yeast infections.
As I’ve already stated, the major cause is the imbalance between the good bacteria – Lactobacillus – which usually keeps the growth of the yeast in check and the yeast itself. Other factors that increase your risk of being infected are:
- Antibiotics, which often reduce the amount of Lactobacillus in the vagina which causes the yeast to multiply and invade the tissues of the vagina resulting in irritation of the vaginal lining.
- If you are diabetic and it is not being well-controlled or you are the type with a sweet tooth, the rise in the amount of sugar in your vagina’s mucous membranes makes it easier for the fungus to thrive.
- Hormonal imbalances as a result of breastfeeding, pregnancy, excessive use of birth control pills or menopause can affect the balance in your vagina.
- The use of scented sprays and douching are also a big no-no.
How to Handle the Vaginal Yeast Infection
Treatments of vaginal yeast infections often vary depending on how simple or severe the infection is. The first thing to do is to see your doctor to confirm that it is a yeast infection and not another type of infection. Once it is confirmed you will usually be prescribed antifungal medicines like antifungal creams, suppositories – that you insert into the vagina, oral tablets or ointments.
This treatment can be applied as a single dose or each day for up to 7 days, assuming it’s a simple infection.
Take note of symptoms of a more severe vaginal infection such as severe swelling, redness, an itch that leads to tears or sores in your vagina or multiple infections in a year. Inform your doctor of these symptoms and you’ll be given the appropriate treatment. Sometimes the treatment can last for up to 6 months.
You can even go natural with some home remedies specifically for taking care of vaginal yeast infections. For example, some foods contain phytochemicals known to inhibit the growth of yeast cells. Therefore consuming such foods would provide your body with a significant boost in its ability to fight off the worst effects of the infection. Some of the foods include:
- Apple cider vinegar which has pretty potent antifungal properties and has been known to be an effective remedy for vaginal fungal infections.
- Caprylic acid, a fatty acid naturally found in palm oil and coconut oil and is available in both liquid and capsule forms
- Lactobacillus acidophilus, good bacteria often found in yogurt and is also available in powder and capsule form.
- Garlic which contains a compound called allicin which has been found to also possess antifungal properties. But before you go slipping garlic into your vagina – as some women have tried to do – it’s safer and healthier to consume it in the capsule form.
Dos and Don’ts of Yeast Infections
Now that you’ve gotten this far, you may already have an idea about its prevention. To start with adopting a healthier – with more green vegetables – and well-balanced diet – including healthy consumptions of yogurt containing good bacteria to fight any invading yeast – will go a long way to saving you from vaginal yeast infections.
You should also wear underwear like linen or cotton that easily soaks water but dries quickly. Fungi need a moist and damp environment in which to grow and these types of underwear don’t give them a chance to overgrow. Also, make sure to wash your underwear with hot water.
Don’t wear tight pantyhose, leggings, and panties. Don’t use scented tampons and sanitary pads. Don’t prolong the use of wet clothes and keep your blood sugar under control.
Taking all these into consideration, it’s pretty clear that even if you do get infected (God forbid), you have a cure for it. Although we should all know that prevention is better than cure.
Don’t forget to consult your doctor as soon as you can because if you prolong the infection, it can lead to other worse conditions.