Yeast infections are an uncomfortably common problem for women, affecting three out of every four. Most women experience the itching and discharge of yeast infection symptoms at least twice in their lifetimes for reasons likely beyond their control. Read on for the low-down on this common problem down-there.
Common Yeast Infection Symptoms
Symptoms of yeast infections can put a cramp in your lifestyle. They can differ from case-to-case, but common signs include:
- Itching and irritation around your vagina and vulva
- A burning feeling during sex or when you use the restroom
- Redness or swelling in your vagina and vulva
- Pain or soreness in your vagina
- Lots of watery discharge or thick, white discharge that looks like cottage cheese
Yeast Infection Causes
In your vagina, bacteria and fungi live naturally. Most of the time, they stay in balance and cause no problems. However, sometimes, too many fungi or too few bacteria cause you to develop a yeast infection. Additionally, many factors can cause an imbalance of bacteria and fungi in your vagina. These include:
- Antibiotic use
- Uncontrolled diabetes
- Poor eating habits
- Lack of sleep
- Wearing tight or moist clothing, underwear or swimsuits
- Birth control pills
- A weakened immune system
How Yeast Infections are Diagnosed
To diagnose a yeast infection, your gynecologist will ask you a few questions and perform a pelvic exam. Your doctor may take a sample of your vaginal discharge with a swab to test in the lab. These lab tests can identify what specific type of fungus is causing your yeast infection. Determining the type of fungus can help you get more effective treatment.
Treatment for Yeast Infections
Luckily, most yeast infections are easily treatable. To get rid of the infection, you may only need to take one pill to get rid of the infection. You may also use an over-the-counter or prescription medication, such as an antifungal cream, tablets, or suppositories.
We recommend getting a diagnosis of a yeast infection from your physician before buying the over-the-counter products. Yeast infection symptoms can be similar to bacterial vaginosis symptoms. Using an antifungal product when you have bacterial vaginosis, may make your infection worse.
More severe yeast infections or recurrent yeast infections may require more pills or longer treatment with antifungal creams. Lastly, your doctor can help you determine what treatment is right for you.
Yeast Infection Prevention
If you have recurrent yeast infections, you can try preventing them by using condoms. You may keep getting a yeast infection from your partner, or semen may be throwing off the balance of your vagina.
Also, protect your vaginal health by wearing loose, cotton underwear, avoiding pantyhose, and staying out of very hot baths or hot tubs. You should also only use antibiotics when necessary. Antibiotics can kill the bacteria in your vagina that you need to maintain a healthy balance.