A Brief Introduction to Vaginal Yeast Infections
[updated August 2019]
Every year, millions of cases of vaginitis (vaginal inflammation) affect women of all ages, but they are especially susceptible during the reproductive years. In fact, 3 out of 4 women end up with a yeast infection at some point during their lifetime and many women experience at least two yeast infections.
A vaginal yeast infection, which is also sometimes called vulvovaginal candidiasis, happens when the healthy yeast that normally lives in your vagina grows out of control. Yeast infections can also happen on penises and scrotums but it’s not as common. It often leads to itching and other irritating symptoms. The medical name for a yeast infection is “candidiasis,” because they’re usually caused by a type of yeast called candida.
Yeast infections are not STD, are not contagious and can’t be spread to another person during sex. People can also get a yeast infection on their mouth, throat, or tongue — that’s called “thrush.”
Causes of Vaginal Yeast Infections
Vaginal yeast infections are caused by an imbalance of bacteria and a fungus called candida. When candida grows excessively, the yeast overgrowth causes a vaginal infection. If you experience chronic yeast infections, a candida fungus specialist can help you resolve your symptoms.
Watch this video to learn more about the symptoms and causes of vaginal yeast infections. Yeast overgrowth can be caused by a number of different things, including antibiotics and chronic conditions such as diabetes.
Vaginal Yeast Infection Symptoms
If you suffer from the following symptoms, you could have a vaginal yeast infection:
- Itching, burning, or irritation of the vagina or vulva, which is the tissue surrounding the vagina
- Pain or soreness in the vagina or the vaginal opening
- Pain during sex
- Burning when you pee
- A thick, white, odorless discharge, similar to cottage cheese
Keep in mind that not all women experience noticeable symptoms when they have a yeast infection. Most yeast infections lead to itching, burning, and/or redness in or around the vagina. Vaginal itching usually gets worse the longer you have the infection. Sex may be uncomfortable or painful.
How to Treat Vaginal Yeast Infections
If you know that it is a yeast infection from past experience and are familiar with the symptoms, you want an effective and convenient treatment option. Below are some tips for handling your yeast infection:
- Most yeast infections can be cured in a few days with an anti-fungal medicine available over-the-counter without a prescription. Make sure you follow the directions and use all of the medicine even if your symptoms go away before you finish.
- Don’t have vaginal or oral sex or put anything into your vagina until you’ve finished treatment and your infection goes away.
- Try not to scratch even if it gets really itchy. Scratching can make the irritation worse and cause cuts in your skin which can spread germs and lead to more infection.
While many women first turn to medications like Monistat Vaginal Antifungal it is best to consult with your doctor on what they recommend for treatment. Plus, yeast infection symptoms are similar to the symptoms of other more serious conditions such as some sexually transmitted diseases which is why you need to consult a doctor for treatment.
What to Do If You Get Recurring Yeast Infections?
While it can seem like you are getting new infections, it’s possible that you never actually cured your original yeast infection. If you continue to have issues with vaginal yeast infections even after receiving care from your primary doctor, then it’s time to consult a candida specialist.
Many physicians treat women with recurrent vaginal infections by giving them the same treatment over and over. And we find that many women end up with an extremely disrupted vaginal ecosystem which is why it’s important to find a specialist in chronic yeast infections if you find yourself continuing to get yeast infections. Doctors who specialize in chronic yeast infections or chronic vaginitis can identify the underlying condition and treat it. In many cases, the yeast infection is due to candida overgrowth.
What is Chronic Vaginitis or Chronic Yeast Infections?
Chronic vaginitis refers to repeated vaginal infections that can have a number of different causes. If you suffer from chronic vaginitis, you may experience discomfort, itching, discharge, and pain during urination and intercourse. It’s important to seek treatment for chronic vaginal infections to prevent long-term complications and improve your quality of life.
What Are Some of the Causes of Chronic Vaginitis
There are four main triggers of vaginitis:
- Yeast Infections
- Bacterial Vaginosis
- Vaginal Atrophy
Yeast infections are caused by a fungus overgrowth, usually candida. Bacterial vaginosis is caused by a decrease in healthy bacteria in the vagina alongside an increase in bacteria that are associated with an infection, trichomoniasis—also called trich—is a sexually transmitted parasite. Vaginal atrophy—also called atrophic vaginitis—occurs when tissue in the vagina shrinks and thins due to a decrease in estrogen. Most cases of chronic vaginitis are caused by yeast infections.
What Are Some Reasons for Candida Overgrowth
Candida overgrowth can occur for many different reasons, including taking antibiotics and having uncontrolled diabetes. If you experience more than four yeast infections in a year, then you may be suffering from chronic candida overgrowth that is caused by a lack of immunity to candida. A specialist can determine how sensitive your body is to candida with a simple skin test. If you have a strong and immediate reaction to candida exposure, then you could lack the immunity you need to control candida growth.
What Treatments are Available
A holistic approach to chronic yeast infection treatment can help you restore immunity so that your body can fight candida naturally. These treatments include following a yeast-free diet and then sublingual immunotherapy, which involves placing drops under the tongue to slowly increase the body’s exposure to candida to allow the immune system to build an appropriate response.
With holistic care, including dietary adjustments and sublingual immunotherapy, you can treat candida overgrowth and prevent recurrent vaginal yeast infections.
- Causes and Risk Factors of Vaginal Yeast Infections
- Reducing Your Risk of Vaginal Yeast Infections
- Top 10 Symptoms of Candida Overgrowth
– Dr. Dean Mitchell, M.D.
Mitchell Medical Group, NYC
About the Author – Dr. Dean Mitchell, M.D.
Dr. Dean Mitchell, M.D. is a Board Certified Allergist and Immunologist based out of NYC. He graduated from the Sackler School of Medicine and completed training at the Robert Cooke Allergy Institute in New York City. He is also a Clinical Assistant Professor at Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine, a fellow of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, and the author of Dr. Dean Mitchell’s Allergy and Asthma Solution: The Ultimate Program for Reversing Your Symptoms One Drop at a Time. Dr. Dean Mitchell, M.D. has also been featured in The New York Times, The Huffington Post, Fitness Magazine, Dr. Oz and News NY 1. Dr. Mitchell also hosts the podcast The Smartest Doctor in the Room – a combination of a lively, personal and in-depth interview with top healthcare specialists.
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