Have you ever heard of candidiasis? Chances are, you most likely have because this is another name for a yeast infection. It’s an extremely common medical problem that a large portion of women experiences at one point in their life or another, and some people may have reoccurring yeast infections.
In a healthy vagina, you’ll have some yeast cells and a balanced biome of bacteria. As long as the bacteria is enough to stop the yeast cells from multiplying, you won’t have a problem. However, you get yeast infections when something disrupts the bacterial balance and the yeast cells begin to multiply without anything to stop them. As the yeast cells continue to multiply, you’ll get burning, itching, and general irritation.
Although you can spread it through sexual contact, it’s not a sexually transmitted infection. Women who aren’t sexually active can also develop a yeast infection. Additionally, you’re more likely to get a yeast infection once you get your first one, whether you’re sexually active or not.
No matter how severe your yeast infections are when you get them, they all come with several common symptoms that can give you a good indication as to whether you have a yeast infection or something else you should have your doctor check. The common symptoms include but are not limited to:
- Burning during sex or urination
- Pain with sex
- Swelling around the vaginal opening
- Vaginal discharge that is thin, white, and lumpy
- Vaginal discharge that is very watery
- Vaginal itching
Some people claim that the vaginal discharge they experience looks like cottage cheese, and this is one of the biggest indicators that you have something going on. Additionally, the severity of your symptoms typically depends on how long you let it go without some type of intervention, like over the counter treatments or a prescription.
Unfortunately, several things can be an indirect or direct cause of your yeast infections. The first thing you have to understand is that you have some yeast (Candida) cells in your vagina, and they’re naturally occurring. You also have “good” bacteria (Lactobacillus) that helps to keep the yeast cells from multiplying and growing out of control.
But, if something throws off this balance and the bacteria can’t keep up with how quickly the yeast cells multiply, you get yeast infections. The bacteria won’t be effective, and the Candida will start to thrive. There are several possible causes of an imbalance, and they include:
- Antibiotics – Antibiotics kill bacteria, and they can’t tell the difference between the “good” bacteria in your body and the “bad” bacteria.
- Hormonal Imbalances– Women who are pregnant, going through menopause, or about to go through their period have fluctuating hormones. This can throw your bacteria count off.
- Lack of Sleep– Not sleeping enough can wreak havoc on your body, and it can cause your bacteria levels to shift. The bad bacteria will outweigh the good, and it won’t be able to stop a fungal overgrowth.
- Poor Eating Habits – Eating a lot of sugary foods gives the bad bacteria fuel to overgrow. It also allows yeast cells to multiply faster.
- Stress – Stress can negatively impact all of your systems, and it can cause problems like system-wide inflammation that makes it difficult for your bacteria to stay in balance.
- Uncontrolled Diabetes – If you have uncontrolled diabetes, you have blood sugar levels that spike dangerously high. It gives the yeast more to feed on, and it causes inflammation.
- Weak Immune System– Women who have weak or compromised immune systems are more prone to developing yeast infections.
The specific strain of yeast that causes most yeast infections is Candida albicans, and it’s treated fairly easily with a round of prescription-strength antibiotics. However, if you’re having yeast infections again and again, it may be a strain of yeast that doesn’t respond well to traditional antibiotics. If this is the case, a simple lab test can help to identify which strain is making you have these yeast infections, and you can get targeted treatments.
If you notice some or all of the common yeast infection symptoms, you’ll most likely want to get a sure diagnosis so you can start treating it. You start with a simple consult with your doctor. You’ll talk about your medical history, and your doctor will most likely ask if you’ve ever had a sexually transmitted infection or disease (STI or STD).
Once you finish with your medical history, your doctor typically performs a pelvic exam. They’re looking for signs of inflammation or infection in and around your vaginal walls and your cervix. Your doctor may also collect some small samples to send to the lab for testing, but this isn’t always the case. They typically take samples if you have a reoccurring problem with yeast infections to determine which strain causes it.
When they get the results back from the lab, they can start considering ways to treat it. Treatment will vary depending on which strain of yeast is behind your infection, how severe the infection is, and whether or not you’re pregnant.
Yeast infections typically get put into two categories based on their severity. You can have simple yeast infections that are generally in the earlier stages and less bothersome, and you can have complicated yeast infections that are much more severe. Obviously, complicated yeast infections can take more rigorous treatment to make go away.
Simple yeast infection treatment is much faster than complex yeast infection treatment. You’ll typically get a one to three-day dose of a medication. You can get an antifungal cream, oral medication, or a vaginal suppository. The prescription medications are stronger than over the counter medications, but you can have success with both. They include:
- Butoconazole (Gynazole)
- Clotrimazole (Lotrimin)
- Fluconazole (Diflucan)
- Miconazole (Monistat)
- Terconazole (Terazol)
Once you take or use the medication for the recommended amount of time as prescribed by your doctor or as dictated by the instructions, you do want to make a follow-up appointment to make sure the yeast infection is all gone. You can also use over the counter products, but prescription ones are generally more effective.
Complicated yeast infections are infections that are farther along and much more inflamed than simple yeast infections. If you have had more than four yeast infections in a year, are pregnant or have uncontrolled diabetes, are HIV positive, or have swelling or itching that leads to open sores, you’ll get a more thorough treatment plan. Treatment may include:
- A double or triple dose of Diflucan
- A two-week ointment, cream, or tablet treatment
- A long-term dose of Diflucan that you take once a week for six weeks to six months
- A long-term use of an antifungal medication lasting more than six months
It’s important to note that you may want to ask if your partner has yeast infections if you keep getting them. You can spread them through intercourse, and it’s a good idea to wear condoms if you suspect either one of you has an active infection to avoid spreading it.
Although you may still get a yeast infection if you do everything to prevent it, you can drastically reduce your chances of developing more then one or two a year. There are things you should and shouldn’t do to prevent them.
- Eat a balanced and healthy diet
- Take probiotic supplements or eat yogurt to increase your good bacteria levels
- Wash your underwear in hot or warm water
- Wear cotton or silk underwear to encourage good air flow
- Replace your feminine hygiene products every month or two
- Take frequent hot baths or sit in hot tubs for extended periods
- Sit around in damp or wet clothing (especially bathing suits)
- Wear tight pantyhose, leggings, tights, or pants
- Use scented pads, tampons, feminine deodorant, or scented bath water
If you think you have a yeast infection, we make it very easy at Medek to get a proper diagnosis so you can start the treatment plan. We give you direct access to a board of certified professionals that are able to give you the prescriptions you need to treat your yeast infection.
Once you download our app and sign up for Medek, all you have to do is open the app and type in your symptoms. We’ll connect you to our staff, and they can have a consultation with you right over the phone. If they diagnose a yeast infection, they can prescribe a treatment plan with prescriptions right over the phone. You could have a prescription sent to your chosen pharmacy in as little as 30 minutes!
Additionally, Medek is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. We’re here when our clients need us, and we offer cost-effective alternatives to going to your clinic or urgent care. To get started, all you need do is contact us. We’re happy to start the enrollment process and help treat your yeast infection today!