According to WebMD, “Yeast is a fungus that normally lives in the vagina in small numbers. A vaginal yeast infection means that too many yeast cells are growing in the vagina. These infections are very common. Although they can bother you a lot, they are not usually serious. And treatment is simple.”
Although not particularly painful, yeast infections can definitely cause a lot of discomfort. Itching is another side effect that can add to the feelings of embarrassment and unease.
Instead of living with the discomfort, there are lots of yeast infection prevention and treatment methods that you can use to get rid of it. Scroll down to read up on them.
What Exactly Is A Yeast Infection?
Mayo Clinic explains, “A vaginal yeast infection is a fungal infection that causes irritation, discharge, and intense itchiness of the vagina and the vulva — the tissues at the vaginal opening. It’s a type of vaginitis, or inflammation of the vagina.
“Vaginal yeast infection (also called vaginal candidiasis) affects up to 3 out of 4 women at some point in their lifetimes. Many women experience at least two episodes.”
What Causes Yeast Infections?
WebMD explains: “Most yeast infections are caused by a type of yeast called Candida albicans.
“A healthy vagina has many bacteria and a small number of yeast cells. The most common bacteria, Lactobacillus acidophilus, help keep other organisms — like the yeast — under control.
“When something happens to change the balance of these organisms, yeast can grow too much and cause symptoms. Taking antibiotics sometimes causes this imbalance. The high estrogen levels caused by pregnancy or hormone therapy can also cause it. So can certain health problems, like diabetes or HIV infection.”
According to Womenshealth.gov., “your vagina may have small amounts of yeast at any given time without causing any symptoms. But when too much yeast grows, you can get an infection.”
What Are The Symptoms Of A Yeast Infection?
Yeast infections can demonstrate itself through numerous symptoms and according to WebMD, many of these symptoms are most likely to occur the week before your period.
The most common symptoms include:
* itching and irritation in the vagina and vulva
* burning sensation during urination or intercourse
* vaginal rash
* vaginal pain and soreness
* redness and swelling of the vulva
* watery vaginal discharge
* thick, white, odorless vaginal discharge with a cottage cheese-like appearance
How Can I Prevent Yeast Infections?
Don’t wait to get a yeast infection in order to treat it. If you haven’t experienced any symptoms yet, it makes a lot more sense to prevent it before it occurs.
There are many ways to prevent yeast infections — here are the best ones!
Yeast Infection Prevention #1: Eat A Balanced Diet
Eating a balanced diet is helpful for health in general, but it’s crucial in avoiding vaginal yeast infections.
WebMD explains that you should “eat a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and nonfat dairy products. Some women think that eating foods with lactobacillus organisms, such as yogurt or acidophilus milk, will help prevent yeast infections. So far there is no evidence for this connection. But eating foods that contain lactobacillus can be part of a healthy diet.”
Yeast Infection Prevention #2: Avoid Unnecessary Antibiotics
According to Mayo Clinic, “To reduce your risk of vaginal yeast infections, avoid unnecessary antibiotic use, such as for colds or other viral infections.”
“Antibiotics can change the normal balance of vaginal organisms, allowing excess growth of yeast,” explains WebMD.
Yeast Infection Prevention #3: Practice Good Genital Hygiene
One of the most important things you can do to avoid yeast infections is to practice good genital hygiene.
WebMD offers many suggestions for keeping your vagina clean, including:
* Keep your vaginal area clean. Use mild, unscented soap and water. Rinse well.
* After using the toilet, wipe from front to back to avoid spreading yeast or bacteria from your anus to the vagina or urinary tract.
* Change pads or tampons often.
* Don’t douche or use deodorant tampons or feminine sprays, powders, or perfumes. These items can change the normal balance of organisms in your vagina.
Yeast Infection Prevention #4: Wear Vagina-Friendly Clothing
Wearing clothes that keep your vagina healthy is very important.
In addition to keeping your vagina clean, wearing the right clothes can also keep it at the proper temperature.
* Wear underwear that helps keep your genital area dry and doesn’t hold in warmth and moisture. One good choice is cotton underwear. Try sleeping without underwear.
* Avoid tight-fitting clothing, such as panty hose, and tight-fitting jeans. These may increase body heat and moisture in your genital area.
* Change out of a wet swimsuit right away. Wearing a wet swimsuit for many hours may keep your genital area warm and moist.
How Do You Treat Yeast Infections?
The first step for treating a yeast infection is to make sure you actually have a yeast infection. Consult your doctor before you begin any treatment.
If you have any of the above symptoms and you haven’t had a yeast infection before, call a doctor to diagnose you.
The symptoms above indicate a yeast infection, but if you have a fever, lower abdominal pain, are pregnant, or have a urinary tract infection (UTI), you should call your doctor immediately.
In addition to general practitioners, other health professionals can diagnose and treat yeast infections, including physician assistants, nurse practitioners, internists, and gynecologists.
Yeast Infection Treatment #1: Antifungal Medicine
If you indeed have a yeast infection which is uncomplicated with mild to moderate symptoms, one of the best treatment methods is a nonprescription antifungal medicine.
According to Mayo Clinic, these “medications are available as creams, ointments, tablets and suppositories.”
Treatment for a complicated yeast infection may be different — this will require a doctor to prescribe a treatment method for you.
Yeast Infection Treatment #2: Use Pads Instead Of Tampons
After using medication to treat your vaginal yeast infection, there are many things you can do at home to help ease and treat the symptoms.
One of the things that can help ease the discomfort of a yeast infection is making sure to use pads instead of tampons if you are on your period.
WebMD explains that you should “use pads instead of tampons while you are using nonprescription vaginal medicines. Tampons can absorb the medicine.”
Yeast Infection Treatment #3: Avoid Using Soap, Just Use Water
Rinse the area only with water when you’re treating a yeast infection — do not use soap. Make sure to keep the area as clean as possible.
Yeast Infection Treatment #4: Apply Lukewarm Water
If your genital area is inflamed or painful from your yeast infection, you should apply lukewarm water to the area.
WebMD says, “If the genital area is swollen or painful, sitting in warm water (in a bathtub or sitz bath, not a hot tub) may help. Or instead, you may try putting a cool, damp cloth on the area. Do not try to rub to try to relieve itching.”
Things To Remember With Yeast Infections
If you’re pregnant, disregard all treatment methods listed above and consult with your doctor — it may be something more serious, or something that could potentially cause complications.
If sex hurts, avoid it. If you do have sex while you’re treating a yeast infection, be aware that antifungal creams and suppositories can weaken latex, which make condoms and diaphragms less effective. This means they may not work to prevent pregnancy and STDs.
This information is meant to supplement, not replace advice from your doctor or healthcare provider and is not meant to cover all possible uses, precautions, interactions or adverse effects. This information may not fit your specific health circumstances.