Yeast Infections: What Are They?

Many people cringe at hearing the words “yeast infection”, but this is nothing to cringe about. Yeast infections, also called vaginal candidiasis, affect many women throughout their lifetime, often multiple times. You may be wondering just what is a yeast infection and how do they occur? We go through the causes, symptoms, and treatments for yeast infections to help you know when you have one.

A vaginal yeast infection is a fungal infection often causing irritation, itching, and abnormal discharge. While yeast infections are not considered a sexually transmitted disease (STD), they should still be treated before the side effects become more severe.

Causes of Yeast Infections

Yeast infections are most commonly caused by the fungus candida albicans. This fungus is naturally found within the vagina which has a proper mix of yeast and bacteria. However, when their is overgrowth of the fungus or penetration of the fungus this causes an infection. Overgrowth can be caused by a number of factors including, but not limited to:

  • Weakened immune system

  • Antibiotics

  • Hormonal imbalance

  • Uncontrolled diabetes

  • Pregnancy

Symptoms of Yeast Infections

There are many different symptoms to look for when you have a yeast infection.

  • Itching and irritation of the vagina and vulva

  • A burning sensation during urination and intercourse

  • Watery vaginal discharge

  • Thick, white, odorless vaginal discharge

  • Swelling of the vagina and vulva

  • Redness

  • Soreness

  • Vaginal rash

However, many of these symptoms resemble those of STDs, so if you do show any symptoms speak with a doctor and consider a STD panel testing. You don’t want to mistake an STD for a yeast infection and prevent proper treatment.

Treatment for Yeast Infections

There are two types of yeast infections: simple and complicated. Both types of yeast infection can usually be easily treated within a few days with antifungal medications. However, each body is different so your doctor will treat your yeast infection based on your symptoms.

Simple Yeast Infections

Treatments for simple yeast infections often prescribed by your doctor include ointments, antifungal creams, tablets, suppositories, and antibiotics. Some of these medications come in over-the-counter forms, but if these don’t work for you speak with your doctor for prescribed medications.

Complicated Yeast Infections

Complicated yeast infections happen in the following situations:

 

  • More than four yeast infections within a 12 month period

  • Pregnant

  • Uncontrolled diabetes

  • HIV positive

  • Severe signs and symptoms

Treatments for complicated yeast infections include antifungal creams, ointments, tablets, suppositories, and antibiotics for longer periods of time than simple yeast infections. When having a complicated yeast infection you want to be sure to speak with your doctor about treatment plans.

How to Prevent Yeast Infections

There are a few ways to prevent yeast infections. Often times you may know just what led to your yeast infection, or it may have come out of nowhere. By understanding your body and risk factors you can help yourself prevent future yeast infections. 

What to Avoid

  • Douching

  • Frequent hot baths and hot tubs

  • Scented feminine products and feminine deodorants

  • Sitting in wet clothes for long periods of time

  • Tight fitting pantyhose, leggings, tights

What to Take Up

  • A well balanced diet

  • Eating yogurt or taking supplements with probiotics

  • Washing underwear in hot water

  • Replacing feminine products frequently

  • Wearing natural fibers such as cotton, silk, and linen

When you have a yeast infection it’s important to listen to your body. While you may want to scratch or try at home remedies, it is best to avoid both of these. Speak with your doctor if over-the-counter products such as Monistat, Azo, FemiClear, or others have not worked for you. During your treatment it is best to practice abstinence and be honest with your partners. If you are unsure of whether you have a yeast infection, order our Vaginal Discharge Panel today. Don’t be embarrassed - keep your health in check!