About Yeast Infections
Yeast infections, also referred to as vaginal candidiansis, are caused by an overgrowth of the fungus candida albicans. Small amounts of yeast are usually always present in the vagina, but when yeast grows too much, you get an infection. Yeast infection symptoms typically include some or all of the following:
- Vaginal discharge that resembles cottage cheese (whitish and thick with no foul odor)
- Itching in or around the vaginal area
- Pain during sex
- Vaginal swelling
- Rash on the vagina
Any or all of the symptoms can range from mild to severe. You should visit your doctor the first time you experience any of these symptoms, if you’ve never had a yeast infection before. Sometimes what you think may be a yeast infection, is really something else, like a bacterial infection. Your doctor will probably do a pelvic exam to look for swelling and discharge. He/she may also use a swab to take a vagina fluid sample. A microscope or lab test will tell you whether or not yeast is the problem.
Yeast infections are treated with antifungal medications, which come in the form of creams, pills, or ointments/suppositories. Many of these medicines can be purchased without a prescription. Some are single dose treatments, while other treatments can last anywhere from 3-7 days. Suppositories should be administered at night, just before bed. Sex should be avoided until all of your symptoms are gone and medicine is finished. Some women experience an allergic reaction to the 1 day suppository/cream yeast treatments because it releases such a huge amount of medicine at one time. It is too powerful for some women. Doctors often times recommend using the 7 day treatment.
Causes of Yeast Infections
A variety of things can make you more susceptible to getting a yeast infection including:
- Lack of sleep
- Weak immune system
- Hormonal changes during your period
- Certain medications ( birth control, antibiotics, steroids)
- HIV and AIDS
- A diet extremely high in sugar
There are a few basics to help prevent yeast infections, if you get them fairly infrequently. By infrequently, I mean twice a year. If you are prone to recurring infections like myself, take a look at My Prevention Methods, listed at the bottom of the page.
Basics for preventing the occasional yeast infection:
- Wear loose cotton underwear instead of nylon
- Do not douche
- Avoid hot tubs
- Avoid baths (showers are better)
- Avoid scented hygiene products (soaps, sprays, bubble bath)
- Change quickly out of wet clothing (workout clothes, bathing suit, etc.)
- Change tampons and sanitary napkins frequently
- Avoid tight clothes
- Eat yogurt or taking lactobacillus pills.
Why some people get recurring yeast infections?
Recurring yeast infections (chronic yeast infections) are still a mystery to gynecologists. That’s why often times treatment is based on the process of trial and error, which can be very unpleasant. What causes recurring infections in one person, may be completely different from what causes them in another. Chronic infections are frequently associated with diabetes, HIV, AIDS , and sexually transmitted diseases, but many women suffer from recurring yeast infections and have none of those conditions. Below is a list of other possible causes for chronic yeast infections.
- Being on antibiotics for an extended period of time
- Having a weak immune system (if you get sick often and it usually takes you a long time to recover, you may have a weak immune system.)
- A yeast infection caused by an unusual type of yeast that is resistant to certain anti-fungal medication
- Eating a diet too high in carbohydrates and sugar
- Upsetting the PH balance in the vagina with scented products (soaps, sprays, detergents, wipes, tampons, pantyliners etc.)
- Improper wiping after a bowel movement (should always wipe front to back)
Sometimes none of the reasons listed above are the cause of chronic yeast infections. These are just a few common reasons. For some people, chronic yeast infections may be caused by a certain food or drink that is included regularly in their diet (drinks with alcohol or caffeine are a few examples). For others, the cause may be unknown.
My prevention methods
Once all the serious causes of recurring yeast infections had been ruled out (STDs, Diabetes, HIV), trial and error was the method I used to find the right combination of things to do to prevent myself from having a yeast infection every month. Below is a list of the things I do on a regular basis to prevent recurring infections. It may seem like a lengthy list, but it is well worth it to not have a yeast infection every month.
- Drink at least 4 tall glasses of water a day
- Drink 2 tall glasses of water right after sex
- Wash vagina with water after sex
- Pee after sex
- Wear cotton underwear
- Use pads instead of tampons
- Wear thigh highs instead of panty hose
- Take Azo Yeast once a day and 3 times a day if I feel an infection coming on
- Eat a low carb and low sugar diet (My Diet)
- Don’t drink caffeine
- Take 1,000mg of vitamin C daily
- Wash vagina daily with just water
- After washing blow dry vagina on low cool setting
- Use Rephresh every 3 days (except when on my period)
- Sleep without underwear (except when on my period)
- Use unscented laundry detergent and dryer sheets
- Take showers instead of baths
- Do not have sex every day (I aim for every other day)
- Always wipe front to back
- Use lubrication during sex