Vaginal yeast infections, also known as candidiasis, are a common female condition. Yeast infections are caused by the fungus Candida. They most commonly occur due to the fungus Candida albicans.
In women, yeast infections are the second most common reason for vaginal burning, itching, and discharge. This happen due to one or more of the following reasons:
- You have diabetes
- You are taking antibiotics used to treat another infection. Antibiotics change the normal balance between germs in the vagina.
- You have a weak immune system
- You are stressed
- You are pregnant
- Sexual activity with frequent change of partners. The transmission of fungal infection between sexual partners is possible. Therefore, it is advisable practicing protected sex.
- Abnormal vaginal discharge. Discharge can range from slightly watery, white discharge to thick, white, and chunky (like cottage cheese).
- Itching and burning of the vagina and labia
- Pain with intercourse
- Redness and swelling of the skin just outside of the vagina (vulva)
- Painful urination
Getting a Vaginal Yeast Infection Diagnosis
Yeast infections are simple to diagnose. Doctors will normally begin by getting information regarding your medical history. This will include whether or not you have had prior yeast infections. Normally, doctors will also ask if you have ever had a sexually transmitted infection.
The next step is a pelvic exam. Your doctor will examine your vagina and the surrounding area to see if there are external signs of infection. They will also examine your vaginal walls and cervix. Depending on what your doctor discovers, they will take a vaginal culture to send to the lab for confirmation. Tests are usually ordered only for women that have yeast infections on a regular basis or for infections that won’t go away.
After an initial diagnosis, you may be able to determine the presence of a future yeast infection on your own.
Candidiasis Yeast Infection Treatment
Most candidal infections can be treated at home with over-the-counter (OTC) remedies or prescription medications and can clear within a week.
A number of OTC remedies are available:
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.
- Your doctor can also prescribe a pill that you only take once orally.
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
Natural and Alternative Solutions to Vaginal Yeast Infections
You can treat vaginal yeast infections with natural remedies if you would like to avoid taking prescription medication. These are some popular natural remedies:
- tea tree oil cream
- garlic or boric acid vaginal suppositories
- yogurt taken orally or applied to the vagina
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:
- use condoms to avoid catching or spreading infections.
- avoid using feminine hygiene sprays, fragrances, or powders in the genital area
- eat a well-balanced diet
- eat yogurt or take supplements with lactobacillus
- keep your genital area clean and dry and avoid soap and rinse with water only
- use pads and not tampons
- avoid douching
- wear natural fibers such as cotton, linen, or silk
- keep your blood sugar levels under good control if you have diabetes