Yeast Infection Symptoms
A vaginal yeast infection is an uncomfortable and itchy infection caused by a type of fungus known as yeast. Vaginal yeast infections are sometimes referred to as yeast vaginitis, candidal vaginitis, or candidal vulvovaginitis. For an infection to occur in the body, the normal balance of yeast and bacteria must be disturbed, thus allowing for a total overgrowth of yeast. Itchiness and discomfort are the main yeast infection symptoms experienced by most women, but there are many others.
- Common yeast infection symptoms include:
- A thick white vaginal discharge similar to cottage cheese
- Burning, redness or swelling of the vagina
- An intense itching in the vaginal area
- Pain during sexual intercourse
- Pain or burning during urination
If you suspect you have a yeast infection it is important that you see your doctor prior to seeking over the counter treatments. The symptoms present with a yeast infection are very similar to other, more serious medical conditions, including some sexually transmitted diseases and bacterial vaginosis. Gaining an accurate diagnosis is important so that you can get the best treatment for your particular ailment.
What is Yeast Infection?
Yeast infections are itchy, uncomfortable, and seldom talked about. Yet a majority of women will experience yeast infection symptoms at least once in their adult lives. What exactly is a yeast infection?
A vaginal yeast infection, also known by the scientific name candidiasis, is a very common condition. An otherwise healthy vagina will always contain bacteria and some yeast cells. It is not the prevalence of the yeast that matters but the changes in the balance of the bacteria and the yeast. When the balance between bacteria and yeast is disrupted, the yeast cells can rapidly multiply. This results in itching, swelling, and vaginal irritation.
Treating a vaginal yeast infection can cause symptom relief within a few days. In some more severe cases, treatment can take two weeks or more. While there are many over the counter medications available to treat yeast infections at home, doctors recommend only using those after seeking a professional opinion. Yeast infections are not always as cut and dry as some would have it seem.
Though yeast infections boast similar symptoms to many sexually transmitted diseases, they are not considered to be under the broad umbrella of STDs. While sexual contact can effectively spread it, they are not typically spread through intercourse. In fact, even women who are not sexually active can suffer from yeast infections. Once you have had one yeast infection, the likelihood of developing another at some point in your life goes up.
Luckily, yeast infections are fairly simple to diagnose and straightforward to treat. After making an appointment your doctor will delve into your medical history. It is important to be forthcoming as to if you have had any yeast infections before. They may also inquire as to if you’ve had an STI. Next, your doctor will perform a pelvic exam. During the exam, your doctor will thoroughly examine your vaginal walls and cervix. At this point they will also check the surrounding area for signs of an infection.
Depending on the severity of your yeast infection symptoms and what your doctor sees during the exam, they may collect some cells from your vagina. Don’t be alarmed, these lab tests are commonly ordered for women who have yeast infections on a regular basis or persistent infections that do not go away.
What causes Yeast Infection?
Yeast infection symptoms can be caused by a number of factors, but they all have to do with the fungus candida, a naturally occurring organism that exists in the vaginal area. When you have a yeast infection, you effectively have an imbalance in your system between bacteria and yeast, meaning that the bacteria won’t work effectively. This can lead to a mass overgrowth of yeast, resulting in the burning and painful symptoms of a vaginal yeast infection.
What can cause this imbalance to occur in the body? Researchers have pinpointed several key factors that can cause a yeast infection.
Common causes of yeast infection symptoms include:
- Antibiotics (they can decrease the amount of good bacteria in the vagina)
- A weak immune system
- Very poor eating habits (especially sugary foods)
- A hormonal imbalance
- High stress levels
- Poor sleeping habits
- Taking oral contraceptives
A very specific type of yeast known as candida albicans is the root cause of most yeast infections. Thankfully, these infections are typically easy to treat and go away within a few days or weeks. If you’re someone who has recurring yeast infections or has great difficulty in getting rid of a yeast infection with conventional treatment methods, a different version of candida might just be the cause of your problems. This is when a lab test will be performed to identify exactly what type of candida you have.
Every yeast infection is different, which means that your doctor will most likely suggest a treatment method that works best for you. Every treatment plan is determined based on the severity of yeast infection symptoms. Simple yeast infections are typically treated with a one-to-three day regimen of an anti fungal cream, tablet, ointment, or suppository. These medications can easily be obtained with a prescription or over the counter.
Common medications used to treat the causes of a yeast infection and alleviate yeast infection symptoms include:
- Butoconazole (Gynazole)
- Clotrimazole (Lotrimin)
- Teraconazole (Terazol)
- Fluconazole (Diflucan)
Even if you are diagnosed with a simple yeast infection, you will still want to follow up with your doctor to ensure that the treatment worked. If your symptoms return within two months, you will also need to make an appointment for a follow up visit.
Always consult with a physician when you are experiencing any pain or discomfort. Airing on the side of caution is always recommended when it comes to your personal health.