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So what caused my vaginal yeast infection?
Yeast infections are caused by a fungus known as candida. Candida, a single-celled fungus, is found in small quantities in even the healthiest of people, but too much can cause problems. It occurs naturally in the GI tract as well as the genital area, but when an overgrowth occurs in the vagina, it becomes a yeast infection. Yeast infections caused by candida can be mild or severe. Often, women who get them tend to have them recur over and over, until what is causing them is addressed.
A yeast infection is characterized by discomfort in the vaginal area, itching, painful burning, burning during urination, and discharge. Discharge from the vagina is not always present with a yeast infection, but can occur. When it does, it is cottage cheese-like in form and there is usually no odor connected with it unless the yeast infection is out of control.
Since the fungus is already present in the vagina, it needs to feed on something to keep it growing and multiplying. If a woman has poor eating habits and consumes too much sugar or processed foods, this can lead to a yeast infection. Candida feeds on the consumed sugar and the more a woman eats, the better it grows. So until a woman is willing to change her diet, there will be a likelihood of the yeast infections recurring.
Taking antibiotics is another way of getting a yeast infection; since antibiotics are designed to kill any kind of bacteria in the body. The problem with this is that in addition to killing any bad bacteria, it kills all of the beneficial and necessary bacteria as well. Within the vagina, these naturally occurring ‘good’ bacteria are then killed off and weakened to the point of being unable to help maintain the regulated environment in the vagina. This weakening opens the door to an overabundance of candida, again resulting in a yeast infection.
Women with diabetes are more prone to these kinds of infections. When a person is diabetic, there is more sugar in their blood which the fungus feeds on. Other medical conditions that lead to yeast infections occur in those with depressed immune systems, such as a woman with HIV or AIDS, cancer, or even pregnancy. While pregnancy is a little different that having a medical condition, the immune system is not working at its best during this time which can lead to yeast infections. Some women who are pregnant don’t notice the normal symptoms of a yeast infection and find out they have one during a routine exam.
Oral contraceptives also change the normal pattern of hormones in the body, which can lead to an increase in the chance of getting a yeast infection. Although a yeast infection isn’t considered a sexually transmitted disease, it can be transferred from person to person. If a man has had sex with a woman that has a yeast infection, he can begin to get some of the same symptoms. A burning, itchy feeling, typically on the end of his penis may be noticeable. Some women have pain during intercourse when they have a yeast infection as well.
Most doctors recommend a woman see her doctor or gynecologist the first time she thinks she has a yeast infection. Other problems, such as STDs can have the same signs and symptoms and a doctor should diagnose the first occurrence of a yeast infection to rule anything else out. Most doctors feel that after the first one, most women are able to self diagnose.
There are numerous over the counter medications to treat yeast infections. These treatments can last anywhere from one day to three days to a week. Some doctors feel the one and three day treatments, although higher in dosage, don’t properly treat the infection, allowing the candida to build back up to unpleasant quantities resulting in recurring yeast infections. Most women know their bodies best and can decide what works best. For a woman with recurring yeast infections it may take several tries to figure out what is the best option for them. For woman who are having difficulty with itching, there are also topical creams that can be used along with the traditional vaginal medications.
Occasionally there are yeast infections that are too difficult to treat with over the counter types of medications. If this is the case, a doctor can prescribe a stronger dosage or even prescribe an oral anti-fungal medication. If this happens, the doctor may require a swab from the vagina to make sure it is only one type of bacteria. If it is more than one kind, the doctor may prescribe more than one medication to fight the infection.
While a woman is taking medication for a yeast infection, regardless of whether it is inserted vaginally, used topically, or taken orally, she may want to increase her intake of the healthy bacteria the medication may be killing off. This can be done by taking acidophilus in a pill form or by eating a quality yogurt which has naturally occurring acidophilus in it. Doing this helps to ensure the vagina gets back to its best state of being as soon as possible. Keeping the amount of healthy bacteria up will also help to fight off any future infections.
There are also anti-fungal herbal pills that are available in most health food stores. Many women take these at the first sign of a yeast infection and feel it has passed within a couple of days. Some women prefer to try this kind of remedy instead of putting unnecessary medications in their body. Knowing there are options can help to make it easier to deal with a yeast infection. Finding the right remedy or medication may take a few tries but can happen.
While candida can be an annoyance when it gets out of control, there are numerous medications on the market to help. A doctor should always diagnose the first occurrence of a yeast infection to make sure it isn’t something more harmful. A change in diet can help to fend off any recurring infections as can some over the counter herbal anti-fungal pills. With a little prevention, a lot of unnecessary discomfort can be avoided.
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