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What is Vaginal Yeast Infection
A vaginal yeast infection is a type of vaginitis inflammation of the vagina characterized by vaginal irritation, intense itchiness and vaginal discharge. A vaginal yeast infection affects your vagina and the tissues at the opening to your vagina (vulva).
Vaginal yeast infection also called vaginal candidiasis is very common. As many as 3 out of 4 women experience a vaginal yeast infection at some point in their lifetimes. Many women experience two or more yeast infections.
A vaginal yeast infection isn’t considered a sexually transmitted infection, although the fungus that causes the condition can be spread through oral-genital contact. Simple treatment is usually effective, unless you have recurrent vaginal yeast infections four or more in a single year. In that case, you may need a longer course of therapy and a maintenance plan.
Vaginal Yeast Infection Symptoms
Vaginal yeast infections have a common set of symptoms. Usually the length of time your vaginal yeast infection is left untreated can have a direct impact on how severe your symptoms are.
Frequent symptoms include:
♦ large or small amounts of vaginal discharge, often whitish gray and thick (although there are times the discharge can be watery)
♦ pain during sex
Vaginal Yeast Infection Treatments
Medicines to treat vaginal yeast infections are available as creams, ointments, vaginal tablets or suppositories. Most can be bought without needing to see your health care provider.
Treating yourself at home is probably OK if:
♦ Your symptoms are mild and you do not have pelvic pain or a fever
♦ This is not your first vaginal yeast infection and you have not had many yeast infections in the past
♦ You are not pregnant
♦ You are not worried about other sexually transmitted infections from recent sexual contact
Medicines you can buy yourself to treat a vaginal yeast infection are:
When using these medicines:
♦ Read the packages carefully and use them as directed.
♦ You will need to take the medicine for 1 – 7 days, depending on which medicine you buy. (If you do not get repeated infections, a 1-day medicine might work for you.)
♦ Do not stop using these medicines early because your symptoms are better.
You doctor can also prescribe a pill that you only take by mouth once.
If your symptoms are worse or you get vaginal yeast infections often, you may need:
♦ Medicine for up to 14 days
♦ Clotrimazole vaginal suppository or fluconazole pill every week to prevent new infections
To help prevent and treat vaginal discharge:
♦ Keep your genital area clean and dry. Avoid soap and rinse with water only. Sitting in a warm, but not hot, bath may help your symptoms.
♦ Avoid douching. Although many women feel cleaner if they douche after their period or intercourse, it may worsen vaginal discharge. Douching removes healthy bacteria lining the vagina that protect against infection.
♦ Eat yogurt with live cultures or take Lactobacillus acidophilus tablets when you are on antibiotics. This will help to prevent a yeast infection.
♦ Use condoms to avoid catching or spreading infections.
♦ Avoid using feminine hygiene sprays, fragrances, or powders in the genital area.
♦ Avoid wearing tight-fitting pants or shorts, which may cause irritation.
Wear cotton underwear or cotton-crotch pantyhose. Avoid underwear made of silk or nylon, because they can increase sweating in the genital area, which can cause irritation.
♦ Use pads and not tampons.
♦ Keep your blood sugar levels under good control if you have diabetes.
♦ Avoid wearing wet bathing suits or exercise clothing for long periods of time. Wash sweaty or wet clothes after each use.
Vaginal Yeast Infection Causes
Most women have a vaginal yeast infection at some time. Candida albicans is a common type of fungus. It is often found in small amounts in the vagina, mouth, digestive tract, and on the skin. Most of the time, it does not cause infection or symptoms.
Candida and the many other germs that normally live in the vagina keep each other in balance. However, sometimes the number of Candida increases, leading to a yeast infection.
This can happen if:
♦ You are taking antibiotics used to treat another infection. Antibiotics change the normal balance between germs in the vagina.
♦ You are pregnant
♦ You are obese
♦ You have diabetes
A yeast infection is not spread through sexual contact. However, some men will develop symptoms such as itching and a rash on the penis after having sexual contact with an infected partner.
Having many vaginal yeast infections may be a sign of other health problems. Other vaginal infections and discharges can be mistaken for a vaginal yeast infection.
How to Prevent Vaginal Yeast Infections
In many cases, you may know exactly what led to your yeast infection. For example, some women experience these infections every time they take antibiotics. By recognizing your own risk factors, you can prevent future infections.
Here are some common methods of prevention, most targeted at avoiding bacteria growth near the vagina:
♦ avoid wearing tight pants, pantyhose, tights, or leggings
♦ avoid using feminine deodorant or deodorant tampons/pads
♦ do not sit around in wet clothing—especially bathing suits
♦ eat a well-balanced diet
♦ eat yogurt or take supplements with lactobacillus
♦ wear natural fibers such as cotton, linen, or silk
♦ avoid sitting in hot tubs or taking frequent hot-tub baths
♦ wash underwear in hot water
♦ avoid douching
♦ change feminine products frequently