Thursday, 23 April 2015

Vaginal Yeast Infections

What is a vaginal yeast infection?

A vaginal yeast infection is irritation of the vagina and the area around it. Yeast is a type of fungus. In about 90% of cases yeast infections are caused by overgrowth of the fungus called Candida       Albicans. Small amounts of yeast are always in the vagina but when there is an overgrowth of yeast, you can get an infection. Yeast infections are very common. About 75 percent of women have one during their lives. And almost half of women have two or more vaginal yeast infections. If you are prone to yeast infections or have had four or more infections in one year you may have Recurrent Vulvovaginal Candidiasis. Women with recurrent vaginal yeast infections are more likely to suffer depression, have low self-esteem and to perceive their lives as stressful affecting sexual and emotional relationships. Please ask one of our doctors about more information if you are experiencing these symptoms. 

What are the signs of a vaginal yeast infection?
The most common symptom of a yeast infection is extreme itchiness in and around the vagina. Other symptoms include: burning, redness, swelling of the vagina and the vulva, pain when passing urine, pain during sex, soreness, a thick white vaginal discharge that looks like cottage cheese and does not have a bad smell, and a rash on the vagina. You may only have a few of these symptoms. They may be mild or severe.  

Should I call my doctor if I think I have a yeast infection?
Yes, you need to see the doctor to find out for sure if you have a yeast infection. The signs of a yeast infection are much like those of sexually transmitted diseases (STD), such as Chlamydia, Trichomonas, Herpes or Gonorrhea. In addition, skin changes such as vaginal eczema, vaginal warts, ulcers, a reaction to spermicidal condoms and even cancer may be underlying and would result in serious consequences if treated with antifungal medication. So, it’s hard to be sure you have a yeast infection and not something more serious. If you recognize your symptoms and you’ve had vaginal yeast infections before, talk to your doctor about acquiring over-the-counter medicines.

How is a vaginal yeast infection diagnosed?
Your doctor will do a pelvic exam to look for swelling and discharge, probing the affected region with a cotton bud to see what areas are sore. Your doctor may also use a swab to take a fluid sample from your vagina. A lab test, known as a fungal culture, will show if yeast is causing the problem.

What will my doctor be looking for during a physical exam?
To determine the manifestations of vaginitis in the affected area, a physical exam may be necessary. Your doctor will ask you about the nature, quantity and color of the discharge. Looking at physical symptoms, your doctor may ask, does the area feel like it’s itching, burning, or do you have dyspareunia (pain during intercourse). If the patient notes having an active sex life, a history into your past and recent sexual history will help your doctor reach the correct diagnosis.

Why did I get a yeast infection?
Many things can raise your risk of a vaginal yeast infection, such as: stress, lack of sleep, illness, poor eating habits, including eating extreme amounts of sugary foods, pregnancy, having your period, taking certain medicines, including birth control pills, antibiotics, and steroids. In addition, poor hygiene, lack of air flow to the region, not changing your underpants often enough, not changing out of sweaty clothes, damp clothing or underpants, not washing after sex, washing incorrectly can all cause yeast infection.
Some chronic sufferers may be especially vulnerable to yeast infections by virtue of vaginal immune system instability. Some exogenous factors may include diabetes, antibiotic use, systemic corticosteroids, or an infection correlated with human immunodeficiency virus.

How can I avoid getting another yeast infection?
To help prevent vaginal yeast infections avoid: douches, scented hygiene products like bubble bath, sprays, pads, and tampons. Change tampons and pads often during your period, avoid tight underwear or clothes made of synthetic fibers, wear cotton underwear and panty-hose with a cotton crotch, change out of wet swimsuits and exercise clothes as soon as you can, avoid hot tubs and very hot bath. If you keep getting yeast infections, be sure and talk with your doctor to avoid exaggerated symptoms.

What should I do if I get repeat yeast infections?
Call us, a diagnosis may need to be re-established. About 5 percent of women get four or more vaginal yeast infections in one year. This is called recurrent vulvovaginal candidiasis (RVVC). RVVC is more common in women with diabetes or weak immune systems. Doctors most often treat this problem with antifungal medicine for up to 6 months. However, this may not be the treatment plan for you. Many candidates who fail initial therapy have been successful using a combination of suppositories/oral medications and topical creams.

What are common therapy regimes used to treat yeast infections?
Over the counter medications:
Gyne-Lotrimin or Mycelex (clotrimazole)
Gynezol or Femstat (butoconazole)
Monistat (miconazole nitrate)
Vagistat (tioconazole)
Terazol (terconazole)

Prescription oral medications:
Fluconazole (Diflucan)
Itraconazole (Sporanox)

Other treatment options may include:
Boric acid suppositories
Tea tree oil

What are common home- therapies used to treat yeast infections?
Dietary changes can be particularly beneficial in preventing yeast flora from growing. Refined sugar, alcohol, and carbohydrates all feed yeast, thus allowing the food for an infection to thrive. Using natural sweeteners like honey, date syrup or agave syrup in small quantities may be a good way to combat sugar cravings.  Many women have found cutting out caffeine can also be effective, as blood sugar levels are kept more constant. Because protein balances blood sugar levels, fish, eggs, white meat and beans should be eaten sparingly.
There are some products which may help. These include: Antifungals (walnut, olive leaf, garlic, grapefruit seeds), Probiotics (Acidophilus) and Enzymatic Products. Vegetables such as: asparagus, avocado, broccoli, brussels sprouts, eggplant, kale, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, cucumber, onions, peppers, radish, spinach, Swiss chard, tomatoes, turnip may be beneficial. In addition, look for fruit and herbal teas known for their high antioxidant properties. Avoid wine, beer, and hard liquor. These will all make candida worse. Exercise Every Day. Drink Lots of Water. Stress-Less, get more sleep, do yoga, breathing and meditation.
Remember, hydration is the key to minimizing all symptoms and will bring about a faster recovery.

Lastly, some hygiene dos and don’ts.
Your vagina is self-cleaning but it is vitally important that you shower daily. Do not use harsh (non-pH balanced soaps) internally, and if a mild soap is used, wash it out completely. Change your clothes daily. Don’t wear clothes that are too tight or that are made with irritating materials; cotton is preferred. Avoid wearing soiled or sweaty underwear. Try to sleep without underwear and keep your vaginal area at all times. Always wipe/wash from front to back after using the toilet. Fold and wet toilet paper with water and wipe front to back until clean after bowel movements. And lastly, if you are sexually active, remember to wash after sex and to ask your partner about their sexual past before genital contact.
This guide will help you avoid exaggerated or prolonged symptoms of vaginitis and fight against disease for long term vaginal health.