A yeast infection, also known as candidiasis, is a common condition. A good vagina contains bacteria and some yeast cells. Only when the balance of bacteria and yeast changes, the yeast cells can multiply. However, it causes intense itching, swelling, and irritation.
In most cases, treating a vaginal yeast infection can take 2 weeks and also may relieve symptoms within a few days.
Furthermore, vaginal yeast infections are sometimes not considered a sexually transmitted infection (STI), usually known as a sexually transmitted disease (STD). Moreso, sexual contact can help spread it.
Once you get a yeast infection, you’re also more likely to get another one, but women who aren’t sexually active can also get them.
Symptoms of Yeast infection
Vaginal yeast infections have a general set of symptoms, such as:
- swelling around the vagina
- burning during urination or sex
- pain during sex
- vaginal itching
Whitish-gray and clumpy vaginal discharge is another telltale symptom. Some people say this discharge looks like cottage cheese. Sometimes the discharge may also be watery.
Causes of Yeast infection
But if there’s an imbalance in your system, these bacteria won’t work effectively. This leads to an overgrowth of yeast, which causes the symptoms of vaginal yeast infections.
Many factors can cause a yeast infection, including:
- antibiotics, which decrease the amount of Lactobacillus (“good bacteria”) in the vagina
- uncontrolled diabetes
- weak immune system
- poor eating habits, including a lot of sugary foods
- hormonal imbalance near your menstrual cycle
- lack of sleep
A particular kind of yeast called Candida albicans creates most yeast infections. However, these conditions are surely treatable.
How can vaginal yeast infections be diagnosed?
Yeast infections are easy to diagnose.
- The doctor will ask about your medical history. This involves whether you’ve had yeast infections before.
- The next step is a pelvic exam. Your doctor will examine your vaginal walls and cervix.
- They’ll also look at the surrounding area for external signs of infection.
- The next step may be to collect some cells from your vagina. These cells go to a lab for examination. Lab tests are normally ordered for women who have yeast infections on a regular basis or for infections that won’t go away.
Treatment of Yeast infection
Each yeast infection is unusual, so your doctor will recommend a treatment that’s best for you. Therapies are generally determined based on the severity of your symptoms.
For simple yeast infections, your doctor will usually prescribe a 1-to-3-day regimen of an antifungal cream, ointment, tablet, or suppository. These medications can be in either a prescription or an over-the-counter (OTC) form.
Common medications include:
- butoconazole (Gynazole)
- clotrimazole (Lotrimin)
- miconazole (Monistat)
- terconazole (Terazol)
- fluconazole (Diflucan)
Women with simple yeast infections should follow up with their doctors to make sure the medicine has worked.
You’ll also need a follow-up visit if your symptoms return within two months.
If you notice that you have a yeast infection, you can also treat yourself at home with OTC products.
Your doctor will more than likely treat your yeast infection as if it were a severe or complicated case if you:
- have severe redness, swelling, and itching that leads to sores or tears in your vaginal tissue
- have had more than four yeast infections in a year
- have an infection caused by Candida other than Candida albicans
- are pregnant
- have uncontrolled diabetes or a weak immune system from medication
- have HIV
Possible treatments for severe or complicated yeast infections include:
- 14-day cream, ointment, tablet, or suppository vaginal treatment
- two or three doses of fluconazole (Diflucan)
- long-term prescription of fluconazole taken once a week for 6 weeks or long-term use of a topical antifungal medication
Always try to use a barrier method such as condoms when having sex with your partner. If you noticed the disease is recurring, in other not to make it critical.
You can also try to treat vaginal yeast infections with natural remedies if you’d like to avoid taking prescription medication, but these aren’t as effective or reliable as the indicated medications. Some popular natural remedies include:
- tea tree oil cream
- coconut oil
- boric acid vaginal suppositories
- plain yogurt took orally
Always make sure your hands are clean before applying creams or oils to your vagina.
You may also want to talk to a doctor before trying natural remedies. This is important because, if your symptoms are due to something other than a simple yeast infection, your doctor can help diagnose your condition.
Speak to your doctor about herbal remedies if you take OTC or prescription drugs. Some herbs can interact with medications you may be taking or can cause other unintended side effects.
Yeast infection in women
Yeast infections are notably popular in women. In fact, it’s approximated that 3 out of 4 women will get more than two vaginal yeast infections in their lifetime.
Despite their prevalence, it’s important to treat vaginal yeast infections early. Not only will you alleviate uncomfortable symptoms, but you can also reduce the chances of the infection becoming more widespread in your body.
Recurring yeast infections are common, especially if you are pregnant, have diabetes, or have a weakened immune system. Talk to your doctor if you have more than four yeast infections per year.
Yeast infection in men
While vaginal yeast infections are more common, it’s possible for men to get yeast infections, too. When it affects the penis, this is known as a penile yeast infection.
All bodies have Candida — not just the female body. When there’s an overgrowth of this fungus, it can lead to yeast infection. The groin area is especially prone to Candida overgrowth because of skin folds and moisture.
Still, penile yeast infections are most commonly caused by having unprotected vaginal intercourse with a woman who has the infection too. You can help stop a yeast infection by wearing condoms during sex. Frequent bathing can also help.
The signs of a yeast infection in men may not be as prominent, though you might see redness and white patches along the penis as well as burning and itchy sensations. See your doctor for a proper diagnosis if you think you have a penile yeast infection.