Are you embarrassed by smelly discharge, exhausted from staying up all night with painful urine infections?
The truth is that most women — some men and children of all ages — will have a yeast infection at some point in their lives.
Though the term “yeast infection” is most often used to refer to a vaginal infection, it also applies to many other types of candidiasis.
Yeast infections are most commonly caused by the fungus Candida albicans, but are also infrequently caused by other Candida species, including C. glabrata, C. parapsilosis, C. tropicalis, and C. krusei.
- A yeast infection of the mouth is called thrush, or oropharyngeal candidiasis.
- A yeast infection of the skin — which typically occurs in warm, moist areas, such as the armpits and groin — is called cutaneous candidiasis.
- And if Candida gets into the bloodstream, such as from using a contaminated intravenous catheter, the yeast can cause a deadly infection called invasive candidiasis.
Up to 75% of women will get a vaginal yeast infection at least once in their lives, and 40 to 50% of women will experience more than one infection.
A vaginal yeast infection, also called candida vaginitis or vulvovaginal candidiasis, is a vaginal infection resulting from the overgrowth of yeast (a type of fungus).
What’s more, 5 to 8% of women will suffer from recurrent or chronic vulvovaginal candidiasis, on average four times in a single year.
Signs of Vaginal Yeast Infection
A women with a vaginal yeast infection, may experience one or more of the following symptoms:
- External vaginal itching Burning sensation in the vaginal area
- Painful urination
- White or grey abnormal vaginal discharge that may be slightly watery, or thick and chunky like cottage cheese
- Pain during vaginal sex
- Redness and swelling of the vulva
Symptoms of a Yeast Infection in Men
Men, particularly those who are uncircumcised, can get a form of penile yeast infection called candidal balanitis.
These infections can spring up in men who have unprotected sex with a woman who has a yeast infection.
These most often include a red rash on the penis and an itching or burning sensation on the tip of the penis.
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IMPORTANT NOTE: This does not mean that yeast infections are considered as a sexually transmitted disease because it can also develop in the absence of sexual activity.
You can have sex with a yeast infection but please always use protection.
Candida albicans and other Candida species are a normal part of the microbiome.
This community of microorganisms naturally live inside our bodies and on our skin.
Candida fungi only cause an infection when something throws off the balance between the various members of your microbiome.
The most common reasons why are bodies can fall out of balance and allow the candida fungi to increase are:
• Certain medications, including birth control pills, antibiotics, and steroids
• Immune-suppressing diseases, including HIV
• Stress and lack of sleep, which can weaken the immune system
Additionally, certain lifestyle habits may also promote the growth of Candida, including:
• Eating a diet high in sugar (a yeast food source)
• Using scented soaps, bubble baths, and feminine sprays
• Douching, IUD use
• Maintaining poor vaginal hygiene
• Wearing clothing that keeps the vaginal area warm and moist, such as synthetic underwear, pyjama bottoms, and tight jeans or spandex
Yeast Infections During Pregnancy
Gregory R. Moore, MD, MPH, an obstetrician-gynecologist and director of the University Health Service at the University of Kentucky in Lexington explains:
These often reoccurring infections happen when “the micro environment of the vagina changes to some extent in response to the estrogen levels”.
Dr. Moore says.
Yeast likes warm, moist, airless environments.
Being pregnant and wearing support hose or constrictive clothing can make the vaginal environment all the more warm, moist, and dark, encouraging yeast to grow.
If you experience unusual vaginal discharge during pregnancy, you should see your doctor to exclude bacterial vaginosis or sexually transmitted infections rather than assume it is a yeast infection.
Chlamydia, gonorrhoea, and trichomoniasis will not respond to treatments for vaginitis and can cause complications during the pregnancy.
The safest treatments for yeast infections during pregnancy are suppositories and vaginal creams.
Pregnant women and women who are nursing should not take an oral prescription medication for yeast infections like Diflucan (fluconazole), as they have not been proven safe.
There has not been adequate human-pregnancy data to make a decision one way or another on the effect of oral anti-fungal medications on the fetus.
While yeast infections generally don’t put a pregnancy at risk, they can be very uncomfortable.
If you think you have a vaginal yeast infection during pregnancy, it should be diagnosed and treated by a doctor.
Someone with a yeast infection especially re-occurring infections can feel totally depleted physically and mentally, so finding the best way to get rid of yeast infection should be a high priority.
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