If you’re a woman, you’ve got a pretty good chance of experiencing a yeast infection at some point in your lifetime. Vaginal yeast infection, or candidiasis, is a very common condition and can cause skin rashes, itchiness and irritation, and strange-looking discharges. It can be an embarrassing and uncomfortable condition to have, but luckily, it’s very treatable and typically goes away in just a few days with medications. Knowing the symptoms and what to look for are important to be able to diagnose and treat them quickly. Below are answers to some common questions about yeast infections.
What Is A Yeast Infection?
Different parts of your body, including your mouth, moist parts of your skin, and your digestive tract, contain a natural balance of yeast, candida albicans (a fungus), and bacteria. Most of the time, this balance remains in check, with the good bacteria in your body keeping your candida levels under control. But when the balance of candida, yeast, and bacteria are off, candida can overgrow in these areas and cause a yeast infection to occur. If left untreated a yeast infection could take up to two weeks to go away and may end up returning.
Who Can Get Yeast Infections?
Yeast infections are common in women. Three out of four women will have a yeast infection at some point in their lifetime, with many women having two. Men can also get yeast infections, although they are somewhat less likely to get a yeast infection than women. A man is more likely to get a yeast infection on his penis if he is uncircumcised since the area under the foreskin can be a breeding ground for bacteria.
Some people may be more prone to yeast infections. Using certain medications, having diabetes, being pregnant, or having a lowered immune system can make a person more likely to get a yeast infection.
People who wear tight-fitting clothing are also more likely to experience yeast infections since it creates a warm, moist environment that allows the growth of yeast and bacteria to thrive.
What Are The Symptoms Of A Yeast Infection
Signs of a yeast infection include vaginal itching, swelling, redness, painful sex, and a white, clumpy discharge that looks similar to cottage cheese. In some cases, yeast infections can also cause vaginal sores
How Do You Get A Yeast Infection?
Anything that disrupts the natural balance of yeast, candida, and bacteria can have the potential to lead to a yeast infection. Some things that may increase your chance of getting a yeast infection are:
Use of antibiotics (since antibiotics can kill the good bacteria that keeps candida and yeast in check)
Having higher levels of estrogen (pregnant women, those taking birth control pills, or those taking hormone replacement therapy)
Not changing out of wet clothes, like a swimsuit or gym clothes, can create prolonged moist environments for yeast to grow.
Regularly douching in women
Using scented feminine products
Yeast infections are not considered sexually transmitted diseases and are unlikely to be contagious in most cases. However, those who are prone to yeast infections, or who have a lowered immune system, may be able to contract a yeast infection from someone else through kissing, breastfeeding, or sexual intercourse.
What’s The Difference Between A Yeast Infection And A UTI?
While some of the symptoms between a TI and a yeast infection are similar, they are two distinct conditions. A UTI occurs when bacteria invade the urinary tract, causing pain when urinating, feeling a frequent need to urinate, and foul-smelling urine. UTI’s may also lead to fever, lower back pain, and even nausea or vomiting when serious.
While yeast infections also can cause pain when urinating, you’ll also likely feel itchiness and swelling around your vaginal area too, and instead of foul-smelling urine, you might experience an odorless white discharge.
Although the two are unrelated, sometimes, treatment for a UTI, which often involves taking antibiotics, may actually lead to a yeast infection, since antibiotics can kill off the good bacteria that keep yeast growth in control.
How Do You Get Rid Of A Yeast Infection?
While a mild yeast infection may go away on its own, it’s rare for that to happen. If you experience symptoms of a yeast infection for 3 days or more, it’s important to get it treated.
The quickest, and most effective way to get rid of a yeast infection is to get a prescription from your doctor. There are several types of medications that can treat yeast infections. These include antifungal creams or ointments, tablets, or even suppositories.
Depending on what your doctor prescribes, you may be required to take or apply your medication for as little as 1-3 days, or for longer if your infection is more severe. Most mild-moderate cases of yeast infection can be cured in as little as 3-7 days.
There are many over-the-counter products available to treat yeast infections.
Home remedies for yeast infections
For those who want to try a more natural approach to treatment, things like tea tree oil, coconut oil, garlic, oil of oregano, or even yogurt have shown some signs of effectiveness. However, these treatments are spotty and you should still talk to your doctor about using a home remedy, as some herbs and natural supplements can interact with other medications you may be taking. In addition, it’s always helpful to receive a complete diagnosis from your doctor in case your condition isn’t a yeast infection or is being caused by another underlying condition.
What If I Keep Getting Yeast Infections?
A yeast infection is considered to be chronic if you get one four or more times within one year. The same things that can contribute to normal yeast infections can also cause them to be chronic – taking regular medications, hormone therapy or pregnancy, or having a condition that affects your immune system.
In cases of chronic yeast infections, your doctor will likely prescribe you a longer-term therapy to treat the infection and may recommend a maintenance therapy to keep it from coming back. He or she will also talk to you about behavioral changes you can make that may help to prevent yeast infections from occurring, such as wearing breathable, loose-fitting clothing, changing out of wet clothes as soon as possible, and avoiding certain products that may disrupt the natural environment of the vagina, such as douches or perfumed vaginal products.