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What is Vaginal Yeast Infection?

Vaginal yeast infection also known as Candidiasis is a fungal infection that causes irritation, discharge and intense itchiness of the vagina and the vulva . A healthy woman has both bacteria, and certain yeast cells, in her vagina. However, yeast cells can grow when the ratio of bacteria to yeast varies. Approximately three out of four women have a vaginal yeast infection. This infection can cause irritation, white discharge, and itchiness on the vagina or vulva. Although it is not a sexually transmissible disease. However, the first time you have regular sex, your risk of getting a vaginal yeast infection increases. Additionally, there is some proof that mouth-to-genital contact may be related to this infection. Find out more about vaginal yeast infection in the article below.

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What is Vaginal Yeast Infection?

Known as a common skin infection in women, a vaginal yeast infection is a fungal infection that causes irritation, discharge and pain on the vulva and the vaginal opening. A vagina consists of a perfect balance of healthy bacteria and yeast. A vaginal yeast infection happens if there is an imbalance in the yeast and the bacteria present in the vagina.

The hormone estrogen helps in the growth of the bacteria lactobacilli. This bacteria is responsible for killing the harmful organism in the vagina. However, if something disturbs this balance, it leads to the growth of a fungus called Candida that causes the yeast to grow uncontrollably. When the yeast cells multiply, it leads to an infection.

Picture of Vaginal Yeast Infection

Causes of Vaginal Yeast Infection

As mentioned above, vaginal yeast infection is a fungal infection caused by the Candida fungus. Lactobacillus keeps the growth of Candida in check. In case of an imbalance in your system, it will also disturb the balance of this bacteria and fungus. This will lead to an overgrowth of yeast, causing the infection.

Many factors can enable the growth of yeast in the vagina. They are as follows:

  • Consumption of antibiotics that reduce the amount of lactobacillus in your vagina

  • Pregnancy

  • Diabetes that is out of control

  • A weak immune system

  • Poor eating habits such as consuming too much sugary foodstuff

  • Hormonal imbalance before your menstrual cycle

  • Lack of sleep

  • Stress

Vaginal yeast infections are treatable. Candida Albicans is one of the most common types of fungus that causes vaginal yeast infection. However, if you have a recurring yeast infection problem then you might need some lab tests to confirm which kind of Candida is causing the infection. It is ideal to consult a General Physician (GP) as soon as you start noticing the above symptoms.

Symptoms of Vaginal Yeast Infection

The most obvious symptoms of a vaginal infection are itchiness and discomfort in your vagina. However, you may also experience other types of symptoms as follows:

  • Irritation & Itching in vagina & vulva

  • Burning sensation during intercourse or urinating

  • Pain during intercourse

  • Swelling and redness of the vulva

  • Rash, pain or soreness

  • Vaginal discharge that is odour-free, thick or watery, white with a cottage cheese appearance

  • People with diabetes are prone to vaginal Candidiasis

The period of time that these symptoms remain untreated may determine how severe the yeast infection is.

How is Vaginal Yeast Infection Diagnosed?

Vaginal yeast infections are easy to diagnose. The GP might ask you about your medical history, symptoms, and whether you have had a yeast infection before. They might also ask you if you have ever contracted an STI. The doctor might then do a pelvic examination where they will examine your cervix and vaginal walls. The doctor might also examine the surrounding area for any external signs of the infection.

Depending on this examination, the doctor may collect some cells from your vagina and send them for a lab examination. This could be the case for people who get the vaginal yeast infection regularly or if they don’t go away easily.

Treatment of Vaginal Yeast Infection

The complexity of infection differs from person to person. Vaginal yeast infection treatment is usually different for different people based on the severity of the symptoms.

  • If it is a simple infection then the doctor may prescribe a 1 to 3 days regimen of tablets, antifungal cream, ointment, or a suppository.

  • Other medications might include butoconazole (Gynazole), clotrimazole (Lotrimin), miconazole (Monistat), terconazole (Terazol), or fluconazole (Diflucan).

  • Pregnant women can use creams, ointments, or suppositories prescribed by the doctor.

Do not forget to follow up with the doctor to let them know if the medication has worked for you. If the symptoms return in 2 months then you might need a follow-up visit.

Home Remedies for Vaginal Yeast Infection

Home remedies for vaginal yeast infection might not be as effective as indicated medications. If you want to avoid prescribed medication, you can try natural remedies that include:

  • Coconut oil, tea tree oil, cream, garlic, or oral intake of plain yoghurt

  • One important thing to keep in mind is that you should always maintain a good hygiene such as washing and cleaning hands before applying any cream or oils to your vagina

In certain scenarios, natural remedies might not work for you and may aggravate the infection. Hence, it is safe to consult with your doctor before you try any such home remedy.

When Should You See the Doctor for Vaginal Yeast Infection?

In case self-care doesn’t alleviate the symptoms, you should rush to your doctor to check if you really have vaginal yeast infection. You must also see a doctor if:

  • It’s the first time you are having the symptoms of yeast infection. Yeast infections and other infections such as a UTI or a few STIs have similar symptoms.

  • You are pregnant.

  • You have been getting vaginal yeast infection frequently, 4 or more, in a year. It could be a sign of another medical condition and must be treated immediately.

Note: In case of a recurring infection, your partner must also get checked for a yeast infection.

Complications of Vaginal Yeast Infection

If you leave the vaginal yeast infection untreated, it could get worse and cause itching, redness, and inflammation around your vagina. It could also lead to skin infection. Here are the 3 uncommon complications caused by untreated vaginal yeast infection:

  • Fatigue

  • Gastrointestinal problems

  • Oral thrush

How to Prevent Vaginal Yeast Infection

Many times, you might know what triggers a yeast infection in your body; it might be the consumption of antibiotics or some other reason. Inculcating some habits in your daily lifestyle may help you prevent vaginal yeast infections.

A few preventive measures that you must take are as follows:

  1. Add yoghurt to your diet or take lactobacillus supplements

  2. Eat a well-balanced diet

  3. Wear neutral fibres such as cotton or linen

  4. Make sure you wash your underwear in hot water

  5. Replace your feminine hygiene products frequently

Things that you need to avoid include:

  1. Wearing wet clothing such as bathing suits for long hours

  2. Using scented feminine products such as tampons or pads

  3. Wearing tight pants, leggings or pantyhose

  4. Hot bathtubs or frequent hot baths

  5. Douching

Yes, it is imperative to take precautions and follow a healthy lifestyle! However, health complications are often unexpected. And this causes unplanned expenses, leading to financial stress. Medical emergencies are already a cause of worry, so why allow money to agonise you amid a dire situation? Let insurance companies cover you for medical expenses such as hospitalisation, pre-hospitalisation, post-hospitalisation charges, etc.

Conclusion

A vaginal yeast infection is common in women but prompt treatments can reduce the uncomfortable ordeal you have to go through. You can recognise the risk factors on your own and avoid future infection. However, you can also speak to your health insurance provider if this is included in the coverage in case you have a severe yeast infection.

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FAQs on Vaginal Yeast Infection

✔️How long does a vaginal yeast infection last?

A severe vaginal yeast infection can last up to 2 weeks, whereas a mild infection often clears up within a few days.

✔️How to prevent a vaginal yeast infection?

Here are a few ways to prevent a vaginal yeast infection:

 

  • Wear breathable underwear (cotton would be the best fabric)

  • Don’t always wear tight pants or jeans

  • Do not wear wet clothes

  • Eat yoghurt since it contains good bacteria

✔️Who is most likely to get a vaginal yeast infection?

You are most likely to get a vaginal yeast infection if:

 

  • You are pregnant

  • You have a weak immune system

  • You have diabetes

  • You douche or use vaginal sprays

  • You have antibiotics

  • You take birth control pills with high levels of estrogen

✔️Is vaginal yeast infection an STI?

No. Vaginal yeast infection can happen to sexually active women as well as women who are not sexually active.

✔️Can a vaginal yeast infection be transmitted to men?

Yeast infections are rare in men. However, it is possible to contract this infection by copulating with a woman who already has the vaginal yeast infection.