YEAST INFECTIONS: definition, symptoms, causes, treatment and prevention

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YEAST INFECTIONS

WHAT IS A VAGINAL YEAST INFECTION?

A vaginal yeast infection, also known as candidiasis, is a common condition. A healthy vagina contains bacteria and some yeast cells. But when the balance of bacteria and yeast changes, the yeast cells can multiply. This causes intense itching, swelling, and irritation. Treating a vaginal yeast infection can relieve symptoms within a few days. . In more severe cases, it may take up to 2 weeks. Vaginal yeast infections aren’t considered a sexually transmitted infection (STI, commonly known as sexually transmitted disease (STD). Sexual contact can spread it, but women who aren’t sexually active can also get them. Once you get a yeast infection, you’re also more likely to get another one.

SYMPTOMS

The symptoms of vaginal candidiasis include:

  • Vaginal itching or soreness
  • Pain during sexual intercourse
  • Pain or discomfort when urinating
  • Abnormal vaginal discharge

Although most vaginal candidiasis is mild, some women can develop severe infections involving redness, swelling, and cracks in the wall of the vagina.

Contact your healthcare provider if you have any of these symptoms. These symptoms are similar to those of other types of vaginal infections, which are treated with different types of medicines. A healthcare provider can tell you if you have vaginal candidiasis and how to treat it.

CAUSES OF VAGINAL YEAST INFECTIONS

There are many reasons you could get a yeast infection, including:

  • Hormones:Changes during pregnancy, breast-feeding or menopause  (or if you’re taking birth control pills) can change the balance in your vagina.
  • Diabetes:If your diabetes is not well controlled, the increase in sugar in the mucus membranes (moist linings) of your vagina can create a place for yeast to grow.
  • Antibiotics: These drugs can kill off many of the good bacteria that live in your vagina.
  • Douches and vaginal sprays:The use of these products can change the balance in your vagina.
  • A weakened immune system:If you are HIV-positive or have another immune system disorder, the yeast may also grow uncontrolled.
  • Sex:Though a yeast infection is not considered a sexually transmitted infection, it can be passed from person to person through sexual contact.

How do I treat a vaginal yeast infection?

When thinking about treatment for a vaginal yeast infection, it is important to know that there are many different types of yeast. Your healthcare provider may discuss different types of treatment depending on the type of yeast infection.

Your doctor will typically treat a vaginal yeast infection with an antifungal medication. This type of medication is specifically used to combat overgrowths of yeast in the body.

There are two forms of medication: oral or topical. The mouth takes oral medications, while topical medications are applied to the affected area. Topical medications may include boric acid, nystatin, miconazole or clotrimazole. Your healthcare provider will give you information about each form of medication and directions on how to properly use each one. It is important to always follow your provider’s instructions when using these medications to make sure that the infection is fully resolved and doesn’t return.

PREVENTION

To reduce your risk of vaginal yeast infections, wear underwear that has a cotton crotch and doesn’t fit too tightly.

It might also help to avoid:

  • Tight-fitting pantyhose
  • Douching, which removes some of the normal bacteria in the vagina that protect you from infection
  • Scented feminine products, including bubble bath, pads and tampons
  • Hot tubs and very hot baths
  • Unnecessary antibiotic use, such as for colds or other viral infections
  • Staying in wet clothes, such as swimsuits and workout attire, for long periods of time

 

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