Yeast Infection – Overview
A fungal infection that causes irritation, discharge and intense itchiness of the vagina and the vulva, the tissues at the vaginal opening, is known as vaginal yeast infection
Also known as vaginal candidiasis, vaginal yeast infection is affected to up to 3 out of 4 women at some point in their lifetimes. At least two episodes are experienced with many women.
A sexually transmitted infection is not vaginal yeast infection. But, the risk of vaginal yeast infection is increased at the time of first regular sexual activity. There’s also some evidence present that states that infections may be connected to mouth to genital contact that is oral-genital sex.
Vaginal yeast infections can be treated effectively with medications. If having recurrent yeast infections that is four or more within a year then a longer treatment course and a maintenance plan may be required.
Yeast Infection – Symptoms
Mild to moderate symptoms are ranged in yeast infection, and include:
- Itching and irritation in the vagina and vulva
- A burning sensation, especially during intercourse or while urinating
- Redness and swelling of the vulva
- Vaginal pain and soreness
- Vaginal rash
- Thick, white, odor-free vaginal discharge with a cottage cheese appearance
- Watery vaginal discharge
Complicated yeast infection
A complicated yeast infection may be present if:
- Having signs and symptoms which are severe such as extensive redness, swelling and itching that leads to tears, cracks or sores
- Having four or more yeast infections in a year
- Infection caused by a less typical type of fungus
- Having uncontrolled diabetes
- Having immune system which is weakened because of certain medications or conditions such as HIV infection
An appointment should be made with the doctor if:
- Having yeast infection symptoms for the first time
- Not sure whether having a yeast infection or not
- Symptoms aren’t relieved after treatment with over-the-counter antifungal vaginal creams or suppositories
- Developing other symptoms
For most of the vaginal yeast infections, the fungus candida albicans is responsible.
A balanced mix of yeast, including candida, and bacteria is present in the vagina. Certain bacteria (lactobacillus) act for the prevention of an overgrowth of yeast.
Disruption can be caused to the balance. Signs and symptoms of yeast infections are caused by sn overgrowth of candida or penetration of the fungus into deeper vaginal cell layers.
Overgrowth of yeast can be from:
- Use of antibiotic, which causes an imbalance in natural vaginal flora
- Uncontrolled diabetes
- An impaired immune system
- Consuming oral contraceptives or hormone therapy that increase estrogen levels
The most common type of fungus to cause yeast infections is candida albicans. Yeast infections which are caused by other types of candida fungus can be harder to treat, and generally need more-aggressive therapies.
Risk of developing a yeast infection can be increased by some factors which may include:
- Women who take antibiotics have yeast infections common. Broad-spectrum antibiotics, which kill a range of bacteria, also kill healthy bacteria in the vagina, resulting to overgrowth of yeast.
- Women with higher estrogen levels have yeast infections more commonly which includes pregnant women or women taking high-dose estrogen birth control pills or estrogen hormone therapy.
- Risk of yeast infections is greater in women with poorly controlled blood sugar than women with well-controlled blood sugar.
- Impaired immune system.Women with lowered immunity are more likely to have yeast infection which includes from corticosteroid therapy or HIV infection.
To minimize the risk of vaginal yeast infections, wear underwear that has a cotton crotch and doesn’t fit too tightly.
To help in avoiding yeast infections avoid:
- Tight-fitting pantyhose
- Douching, which removes some of the normal bacteria in the vagina that protect from infection
- Scented feminine products, including bubble bath, pads and tampons
- Hot tubs and very hot baths
- Unnecessary usage of antibiotic, such as for colds or other viral infections
- Staying for long periods of time in wet clothes, such as swimsuits and workout attire
A yeast infection to be diagnosed:
- Questions will be asked by the doctor about medical history which might include gathering information about past vaginal infections or sexually transmitted infections.
- A pelvic exam will be performed by the doctor where the doctor examines the external genitals for signs of infection. Next, an instrument (speculum) is placed into the vagina to hold the vaginal walls open to examine the vagina and cervix that is the lower, narrower part of the uterus.
- A sample of vaginal fluid may be send by the doctor for testing to determine the type of fungus causing the yeast infection. Identifying the fungus can help the doctor in prescribing more effective treatment for recurrent yeast infections.
Depending on the severity and frequency of infections, yeast infections are treated.
For symptoms which are mild to moderate and infrequent episodes, the doctor might suggest:
- Short-course vaginal therapy. An antifungal medication is taken for three to seven days to clear a yeast infection. Antifungal medications which are found as creams, ointments, tablets and suppositories include miconazole (Monistat 3) and terconazole. Some of these medications are found as over-the-counter and others by prescription only.
- Single-dose oral medication.A one-time, single oral dose of fluconazole (Diflucan) might be prescribed by the doctor. Oral medication isn’t suggest if pregnant. For managing more-severe symptoms, two single doses might be taken three days apart.
The doctor should be visited again if treatment doesn’t resolve the symptoms or if the symptoms return within two months.
If having severe symptoms, or having frequent yeast infections, the doctor might recommend:
- Long-course vaginal therapy.An antifungal medication might be prescribed by the doctor to be taken daily for up to two weeks, followed by once a week for six months.
- Multidose oral medication.Two or three doses of an antifungal medication might be prescribed by the doctor to be taken by mouth instead of vaginal therapy. However, for women who are pregnant this therapy isn’t recommended.
- Azole resistant therapy.Boric acid might be suggested, a capsule which is inserted into the vagina. This medication may be deadly if taken orally and is used only to treat candida fungus that is resistant to the usual antifungal agents.
For treating vaginal yeast infections, no alternative medicine therapies are proved. Some relief may be provided by some complementary and alternative therapies when combined with doctor’s care.
Doctor should be consulted about what alternative treatments for vaginal yeast infection may be safe.
Preparing for appointment
If a yeast infection has been treated in the past, it might not be required to see the doctor and the doctor may prescribe a treatment over the phone. Otherwise, a family medicine doctor or gynecologist is likely to be consulted
- A list of any symptoms should be made for how long they are being experienced.
- Key information should be written down including other medical conditions and any medications, vitamins or supplements being taken.
- Using tampons or douching should be avoided before the appointment.
- A list of questions should be made to ask the doctor.
During the appointment, ask questions as they occur and not to be hesitated.
A number of questions is likely to be asked by the doctor including:
- Vaginal symptoms having and for how long?
- Noticing a strong vaginal odor?
- Ever been treated for a vaginal infection?
- Over-the-counter products tried to treat the condition?
- Recently taken antibiotics?
- Sexually active?
- Usage of scented soap or bubble bath?
- Douching or using feminine hygiene spray?