What Is a Yeast Infection?
A yeast infection is a vaginal condition that irritates the vagina, extreme itching of the outer vaginal area (vulva) and “cottage cheese” like vaginal discharge. Symptoms are due to an overgrowth of yeast, called Candida albicans. Normally, the vagina has a balance of bacteria and candida, but a decrease in vaginal pH or hormonal changes may cause candida to multiply. Yeast infections are very common, and according to the CDC, 75 percent of all women will experience at least one yeast infection in their adult life. Depending on the severity of symptoms, self-treatment with over-the-counter medications may be appropriate. However, it is always safest to consult with a physician to receive proper diagnosis and treatment.
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Causes of Yeast Infections
Medications such as antibiotics, corticosteroids, birth control pills and hormone therapy treatments can cause candida overgrowth. Women are at a higher risk for yeast infections in cases where they are overweight, pregnant, have decreased immunity due to HIV/AIDs or other medications, have uncontrolled diabetes or are menstruating. Also, although a yeast infection is not considered an STD, exposure to the candida fungus can occur during sexual intercourse.
Symptoms and Treatment Options for Yeast Infections
Yeast infection symptoms can range from mild to moderate. Symptoms include:
– Itching and irritation of the vulva.
– Burning during urination or sexual intercourse.
– Pain and swelling of the vagina.
– Vaginal rash.
– Odor-free watery and/or white clumpy vaginal discharge.
More severe or recurring symptoms such as swelling and tearing of the vulva, multiple yeast infections each year, discharge with color or odor may indicate a different infection or a complicated yeast infection. Treatment for a mild to moderate infection may include prescription or over-the-counter vaginal creams or suppositories, or a prescribed oral medication. With symptoms that are severe or recurring, a physician will address the underlying cause and create an individualized treatment plan.
Pregnancy and Yeast Infections
Yeast infections are common during pregnancy, but if you recognize the symptoms of a yeast infection and are currently pregnant, do not take medicine to treat the infection without consulting your doctor first.
Preventing Yeast Infections
Practicing good genital hygiene can help prevent yeast infections.
– Keep your vaginal area clean with mild, unscented soap and water.
– After using the toilet, wipe from front to back. This will help avoid spreading yeast or bacteria from your anus to your vagina or urinary tract.
– Wear cotton underwear and other undergarments that don’t lock in moisture to your genital area.
– Avoid wearing tight-fitting clothing such as jeans or panty hose.
– Change pads and tampons frequently.
– Avoid wearing a wet swimsuit for an extended period.
– Avoid using douches or scented tampons as these can disrupt the normal balance of organisms in your vagina.
OBGYN Women’s Centre of Lakewood Ranch Can Help
If you are experiencing yeast infection symptoms call us at (941) 254-2717. We offer comprehensive gynecological services with experienced physicians who can ensure that you get a proper diagnosis and treatment plan. It is especially important to seek our help if you are pregnant or experiencing severe or recurring yeast infection symptoms. Schedule an appointment today or call us for more information about our services.