Yeast Infections

Yeast Infections

All Your Questions Answered - MP Edition 008

If you’ve ever experienced an itchy vag or had discharge that looked suspiciously like cottage cheese, you’ve likely had a yeast infection. And you’re not alone - yeast infections are actually extremely common and affect up to 75% of women at some point in their life.

 

So, what’s a yeast infection?

Unfortunately, a yeast infection is not an abundance of the pastries sort. A yeast infection is a vaginal irritation caused by, you guessed it, yeast - specifically, a type of fungus called Candida Albicans. A yeast infection is also known as yeast vaginitis, candidal vaginitis, and candidal vulvovaginitis. 

One important thing to note is that while yeast can be spread by sexual activity, a vaginal yeast infection is not a sexually transmitted infection (STI). Yeast can be present in healthy vaginas without showing any symptoms. About 20 to 50% of women already have yeast present in their vagina.

 

How do you get a yeast infection?

Infections are caused by an imbalance of yeast and bacteria. This can be due to a weak immune system or artificial ingredients from feminine hygiene products. An imbalance can also be attributed by antibiotics or immunosuppressive drugs. These drugs not only wipe out the bad bacteria but also the normal, protective bacteria as well. 

And with fewer good bacteria to wrangle the yeast and keep it under control, the result is an overgrowth of yeast. The yeast then multiplies, causes irritation in the vagina, and you’ve got yourself a yeast infection. 

Other conditions and factors that may cause a breeding ground for yeast are: 

  • Diabetes

  • Pregnancy

  • Oral contraceptives

  • Steroid medication

  • Chemotherapy 

  • Douching

What are common yeast infection symptoms?

The main distinguishing symptoms of a vaginal yeast infection are often intense itching and thick, odorless, and white-gray discharge. Other yeast infection symptoms can include: 

  • Burning

  • Pain during intercourse

  • Pain or burning during urination 

  • Redness, irritation, or soreness of the vulva

  • Swelling of the vagina

However, everyone’s body is different. You may not get the same symptoms as someone else or your symptoms may change each time you get an infection. While itching and discharge are commonly indicative of yeast infection, they could also be a sign of other conditions such as bacterial vaginosis, which would cause an odor. The most accurate way to know is to see a doctor if you’re not sure.

Yeast infections can be really uncomfortable, but the good news is that in most cases, they’re simple to treat.

 

How long does a yeast infection last?

The length of a yeast infection depends on the severity of infection and the type of treatment. Some infections go away on their own and don’t need any treatment. Mild infections can clear up in as few as 3 days, while moderate to severe infections could take up to 1 to 2 weeks to clear.

 

What is the treatment for yeast infections?

Yeast infection treatment involves topical or oral antifungal medications. Both prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) treatments such as vaginal creams, tablets, and suppositories are effective in treating vaginal yeast infections. 

If yeast infections have a habit of coming back again and again for you, you may require something stronger. Many people turn to boric acid to treat recurring yeast infections. Both antiviral and antifungal, boric acid is more effective against the resistant yeast strains that regular treatment can’t cure. You insert boric acid suppositories straight into your vagina. They’re available over the counter premade, or you can DIY them by putting boric acid in gelatin capsules. Speak to your doctor about whether boric acid suppositories can help you treat your recurring yeast infections.

 

How to prevent yeast infections?

Because yeast can be present even in healthy vaginas, there’s no 100% guarantee against yeast infections. But there are 3 preventive measures you can take to reduce your risk of getting a yeast infection:

  1. Keep the vaginal area dry. Wear loose pants and cotton underwear as cotton absorbs sweat and helps keep your area down there moisture-free. 

  2. Keep that area clean. Take care to wipe from front to back and cleanse the area with water or a natural feminine wash daily. Avoid douching and products with artificial ingredients or harmful chemicals as they can throw off your delicate pH balance. 

  3. Eat foods rich with probiotics. Probiotics are healthy bacteria naturally found in the body. There is evidence that says that foods that contain a lot of probiotics, like yogurt, may help prevent yeast infections.

Yeast infections are not pleasant but luckily treatment is simple and hopefully these tips will help you reduce the chance of yeast infections.

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