No, this is not something you need to be ashamed of – most women experience a yeast infection one time or another in their life, and many women suffer from recurrent yeast infections. To be precise, three out of four women experience a yeast infection at least once in their lifetime.
What is a yeast infection?
A yeast infection, (Candidiasis or Thrush) is a type of vaginitis, or inflammation of the vagina. This type of infection will mostly affect your vagina and vulva (the tissues at the opening to your vagina). It is important to note that this is not a sexually transmitted infection (as women who are not sexually active can also suffer from this and because the fungus is naturally present in the vagina), but the fungus that causes a yeast infection can be spread via genital-contact or orally.
What causes a yeast infection?
Yeast infections, also called vaginitis, are caused by an organism that actually lives in the healthy vagina, together with bacteria. Most commonly, it is caused by a fungus called Candida albicans.
Here’s what happens: Lactobacillus bacteria that is living in your vagina produce acid that prevents the overgrowth of yeast in the vagina. When that unique balance between acid and yeast is disturbed, you can get an overgrowth of yeast, and symptoms of a common yeast infection can occur.
The overgrowth of yeast can happen because of the following: use of antibiotics, pregnancy, uncontrolled diabetes, impaired immune system, douching or irritation from inadequate vaginal lubrication.
Symptoms of a yeast infection
The symptoms of a yeast infection can include itching of the vagina, a burning sensation when you urinate or during intercourse, reddening of the labia and sometimes even the upper thighs, swelling of the vulva, and discharge.
Is it really a yeast infection?
Firstly you really have to be sure it is a yeast infection and not some sort of other infection yielding the same symptoms that might need to be treated with prescription medication. Two other common infections in particular need to be treated with prescription medication. Infection by a protozoa namely Trichomonas or trick: this is usually accompanied by a foul-smelling, frothy, yellowish odour.
The other possibility is bacterial vaginosis. Bacterial vaginosis is synonymous with a heavy discharge, little irritation, fishy smell and occurs particularly after intercourse. Home remedies aren’t very effective when it comes to either trick or bacterial vaginosis, so it is best to go see your doctor.
Recurrent yeast infections are usually when the infection occurs four or more times in a year, which calls for a more aggressive treatment plan.
If you are not sure that it is a yeast infection, or if you’ve got extreme yeast infection symptoms (called complicated yeast infection), or if over-the-counter antifungal vaginal creams are not working, contact your doctor.
How do you treat or prevent yeast infections at home?
Stay dry: Be sure to change into dry clothes directly after swimming or working out.
Yoghurt: Some women report that Lactobacillus-containing yoghurt taken orally or applied directly to the vagina has positive results.
Be loose: Wear loose-fitting pantyhose and cotton underwear.
Diet clean-up: Keep to yeast-free foods and drinks, such as dairy, sugar, white flower, etc. Also add onions and garlic to your diet.
Other natural remedies include taking Borax acid, probiotics and vitamins and supplements. Palmarosa oil and tea tree oil have also been reported to be effective.