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If you’ve got a vagina, you’re at risk of a yeast infection. But that sound a lot more dramatic than it really is. Yeast infections are extremely common, so common that you can buy medication for them over the counter. And because that’s the case, you should probably know a thing or two about recognizing and treating them. Dr. Katherine McHugh — an ob-gyn at Indiana University Health — have a comprehensive overview of everything yeast infection.
If this is your first yeast infection, you may have to go see your gynecologist. “Patients will call and say, ‘I’m not sure what’s wrong; can you diagnose me?’ But it’s difficult to make a diagnosis over the phone unless a patient has a documented pattern of recurrent yeast infections,” Dr. Atashroo says. Find out the 10 foods you should eat for a healthier vagina.
Vagina or discharge smells like onions: What to do While a mild vaginal odor is healthy and all vaginas have a different smell, a strong scent of onions may indicate a problem. In this article, we explore the causes of a vagina that smells like onions. These include specific foods, bacterial vaginosis, and poor hygiene. We also cover treatment and prevention methods. Read now
The fungus candida causes a vaginal yeast infection. Your vagina naturally contains a balanced mix of yeast, including candida, and bacteria. Lactobacillus bacteria produce acid, which prevents yeast overgrowth. That balance can be disrupted and lead to a yeast infection. Too much yeast in your vagina causes vaginal itching, burning and other classic signs and symptoms of a yeast infection.
Candida can be very serious. Recently, a “superbug” candida species known as Candida auris has emerged as a dangerous health threat in several countries and many health care facilities in the U.S. This version of candida — which often spreads through candida biofilms on surfaces such as catheters and bedrails — has proven resistant to multiple drugs, resulting in serious illness.
Oral thrush: All you need to know Oral thrush is typically caused by a fungal infection that develops on the mucous membranes of the mouth. Symptoms include creamy or white deposits in the mouth. Treatment usually involves antifungal drugs, but some home remedies might help reduce the risk of the thrush worsening. Read about types and risk factors. Read now
If your baby has thrush in the diaper area, you need can use the cream (topical treatment). But you need to also use the oral Nystatin suspension. If you don't use the oral suspension, the thrush will often come back. The yeast is in the gut and so comes out with your baby's poop (poo) - if you don't treat from the top end, you won't get cure the thrush.
This fungal overgrowth can happen for many reasons. Things that increase your estrogen, such as pregnancy, combined hormonal contraceptives, and hormone therapy, can raise the glycogen (a type of sugar) in the vagina. Wouldn’t you know it: Yeast happen to love sugar. Uncontrolled diabetes can also contribute, due to the excess sugar circulating in your blood. Antibiotics that disrupt the balance of Lactobacillus bacteria, which can prevent yeast overgrowth, are another factor, according to the Mayo Clinic. There are also lifestyle-related reasons, like spending too much time in damp workout clothing or swimwear, or wearing non-cotton underwear that doesn’t allow for much airflow.
Birth control is available in a variety of methods and types. The method of birth control varies from person to person, and their preferences to either become pregnant or not. Examples of barrier methods include barrier methods (sponge, spermicides, condoms), hormonal methods (pill, patch), surgical sterilization (tubal ligation, vasectomy), natural methods, and the morning after pill.
But how do you know if what you're seeing — or feeling — is actually a yeast infection? These surefire signs signal that it's time to schedule a visit with your OBGYN. That way you'll know if an over-the-counter treatment will actually work, or if you need to grab a prescription for something stronger. Either way, you'll be on your way to a healthy, back-in-balance vagina.
While it’s completely normal for your vagina to harbor some bacteria and yeast, certain factors can cause a fungus called Candida to grow out of control. This results in itching, burning, swelling, pain when you pee, and thick cottage cheese-like discharge—the telltale signs of a yeast infection. So it makes sense, then, that you’d want to do everything you can to get rid of one ASAP.
Boric acid is a powerful antiseptic that some women claim is useful for treating yeast infections that are resistant to other remedies. According to a 2009 study, topical boric acid showed encouraging results as a treatment for vaginal infections. Some health websites claim boric acid vaginal suppositories may also be effective in treating vaginal yeast infections.
As McHugh mentioned, some women get stuck in a hellish cycle of constant yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis — treating BV causes a yeast infection which causes BV and so on and so forth. This isn't something you're just doomed to live with forever. McHugh said if this is happening to you, you should see an ob-gyn or pelvic health specialist. Both to rule out any other underlying issue, and see if there's another way to treat either issue to break the cycle.
The OTC products available for vaginal yeast infections typically have one of four active ingredients: butoconazole nitrate, clotrimazole, miconazole, and tioconazole. These drugs are in the same anti-fungal family and work in similar ways to break down the cell wall of the Candida organism until it dissolves. These products are safe to use if you are pregnant.
Some people worry that using actual yeast infection medications will further upset the microbial balance in the vagina, leading to more discomfort. But Leena Nathan, M.D., an ob/gyn at UCLA Health, says this concern isn’t necessary because these drugs are only affecting your yeast overgrowth. “It's OK to go ahead and treat it and not worry about trading one [infection] for another,” she tells SELF. You might experience side effects such as a bit of burning or irritation, and if you choose vaginal suppositories they could weaken the latex in condoms (so use a different form of contraception if necessary)—but antifungals aren’t going to somehow create a different vaginal infection.
Try it: If you have a yeast infection that won’t quit, talk to your doctor about going on fluconazole. Two 150-milligram pills taken three days apart “is a common treatment” for a yeast infection, says Sherry Ross, MD, an ob-gyn in Santa Monica and author of She-ology. For milder infections, your doctor may recommend one 150-milligram dose, but “for severe or chronic infections, treatment regimens using fluconazole can be taken daily or weekly for six months,” she says.
Factors that increase the risk of candidiasis include HIV/AIDS, mononucleosis, cancer treatments, steroids, stress, antibiotic usage, diabetes, and nutrient deficiency. Hormone replacement therapy and infertility treatments may also be predisposing factors. Treatment with antibiotics can lead to eliminating the yeast's natural competitors for resources in the oral and intestinal flora; thereby increasing the severity of the condition. A weakened or undeveloped immune system or metabolic illnesses are significant predisposing factors of candidiasis. Almost 15% of people with weakened immune systems develop a systemic illness caused by Candida species. Diets high in simple carbohydrates have been found to affect rates of oral candidiases.
Women with VVC usually experience genital itching, burning, and sometimes a "cottage cheese-like" vaginal discharge. Men with genital candidiasis may experience an itchy rash on the penis. The symptoms of VVC are similar to those of many other genital infections, so it is important to see your doctor if you have any of these symptoms...Read more about Genital Candidiasis Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
You can treat a yeast infection with over-the-counter antifungal medications (creams, ointments, or suppositories for your vagina), or your doctor may opt to give you a prescription for a one-day oral antifungal like fluconazole. Changing up habits to ones that support vaginal health—like staying away from tight clothing, using an unscented body wash, changing pads and tampons often, and changing out of workout clothes after exercise—can help lessen the aggravation of symptoms or decrease the likelihood of recurrence, Dr. Atashroo says.
If you've had a yeast infection before and now have the same symptoms—vaginal discharge that has a yeast-like smell,with burning, itching and discomfort—self-treatment with an over-the-counter antifungal treatment is generally acceptable. However, many vaginal infections, including some that can cause serious reproductive health conditions, such as premature birth or increased risk of sexually transmitted diseases, have similar symptoms. If you're not sure, have never had a yeast infection before, are pregnant or have a health condition, consult a health care professional for an evaluation of your symptoms before treating yourself with OTC medications.
Applying plain yogurt to the area may help to restore balance and reduce irritation. Using only plain yogurt with active cultures, once or twice a day, rub a few tablespoons’ worth around the outside of the vagina to quell irritation, or insert the same amount into the vagina. You can also dip a tampon in the yogurt, let it soak for a few minutes, and then insert it.
Vaginal infections can also be caused by bacterial vaginosis (BV), the most common cause of vaginitis in women of childbearing age, and trichomoniasis, a sexually transmitted infection. BV and trichomoniasis are associated with more serious reproductive health concerns, such as premature birth and increased risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases. Because these infections can have symptoms similar to those of yeast infections, yet can have more serious reproductive effects, it's important to see a health care professional to evaluate and diagnose any vaginal symptoms. A variety of medications can treat vaginal infections, but proper diagnosis is key.
Vaginal candidiasis is usually treated with antifungal medicine.3 For most infections, the treatment is an antifungal medicine applied inside the vagina or a single dose of fluconazole taken by mouth. For more severe infections, infections that don’t get better, or keep coming back after getting better, other treatments might be needed. These treatments include more doses of fluconazole taken by mouth or other medicines applied inside the vagina such as boric acid, nystatin, or flucytosine.
It could infect your partner – Choosing to opt out of treatment when you have a sexual partner can cause problems for both of you. Yeast infections can be transmitted back and forth through genital contact. Without treatment and with continued sexual contact, your partner may develop a yeast infection. The infection may continue to be transmitted until one of you seeks treatment.
According to the Department of Clinical Research at Merck Research Laboratories, candidiasis can become invasive in cancer patients and present a serious complication. (3) In this study, one-third of patients being treated for cancer had “invasive” candidiasis. Chemotherapy and radiation can both work to kill cancerous cells and tumors; however, they also kill off the healthy bacteria that naturally fight candida.
It's not clear whether vaginal yeast infections can be transferred during sexual intercourse. However, if your sexual partner has the symptoms of candida—redness, irritation and/or itching at the tip of the penis in a male—he may need to be treated. In rare cases, treatment of partners of women with recurrent yeast infection is recommended. Additionally, recurrent yeast infections may be representative of a different problem. Thus, it is important to see your health care provider for an evaluation.
Systemic candidiasis occurs when Candida yeast enters the bloodstream and may spread (becoming disseminated candidiasis) to other organs, including the central nervous system, kidneys, liver, bones, muscles, joints, spleen, or eyes. Treatment typically consists of oral or intravenous antifungal medications. In candidal infections of the blood, intravenous fluconazole or an echinocandin such as caspofungin may be used. Amphotericin B is another option.
Try it: You can generally buy these online or at your local pharmacy. Like OTC vaginal yeast infection medications, you simply insert them vaginally, often for 14 days in a row, Dr. Ross says. This “has been an effective alternative to traditional medication,” she adds. However, it’s worth pointing out that these suppositories can irritate your skin.
It goes without saying that the need to wear a diaper is probably the major contributing factor. Cotton underwear is much better suited to breathing and preventing the environment in which yeast thrive -- dark, warm, and moist skin surfaces. Cloth diapers and nonabsorbent disposable diapers both contribute to a favorable environment for yeast growth. Many specialists believe that a yeast infection in the infant's mouth (thrush) is a risk factor for the development of yeast diaper dermatitis. Lastly, recent receipt of oral antibiotics may also encourage overgrowth of intestinal yeast.
A small percentage of women (less than 5 percent) experience recurrent vulvovaginal candidiasis (RVVC), defined as four or more yeast infections per year. Treatment involves a longer course of treatment—between 7 and 14 days of a topical cream or suppository or oral fluconazole followed by a second and third dose three and six days later. Your health care professional may also recommend a preventative treatment after the infection has resolved. This treatment may involve a 150 mg dose of fluconazole or 500 mg of topical clotrimazole once a week.
Essential oils should not be taken orally. They are meant to be inhaled as part of aromatherapy. While some studies are examining other ways to use oregano essential oils, at this time it’s recommended that you use it diluted in a carrier oils, such as olive or sweet almond oil. Mix three to five drops essential oil per ounce of carrier oil. Then, apply it to the skin in massage or inhale it through a diffuser. Do not apply essential oils near your vagina.
Up to 40% of women seek alternatives to treat vaginal yeast infection. Example products are herbal preparations, probiotics and vaginal acidifying agents. Other alternative treatment approaches include switching contraceptive, treatment of the sexual partner and gentian violet. However, the effectiveness of such treatments has not received much study.
Breastfeeding doesn't have to be interrupted if one or both of you have been diagnosed with thrush, but the condition can make feeding excruciating for you — another reason why prompt treatment for both of you is needed. One thing that can help, provided you have the privacy and cooperative weather, is exposing your nipples to sunlight for a few minutes each day, since yeast hates sun. Probiotics may help speed recovery and keep yeast at bay too, and they're safe to take while you're breastfeeding.
How does thrush affect men? Thrush is a fungal infection caused by Candida yeasts. There are two types: genital thrush, which, in men, can cause irritation and swelling at the head of the penis, and oral thrush that occurs in the mouth. Mild infections may not require treatment, but medications and home remedies may help to relieve symptoms. Read now
Anti‐fungals are available for oral and intra‐vaginal treatment of uncomplicated vulvovaginal candidiasis (thrush). The primary objective of this review was to assess the relative effectiveness of oral versus intra‐vaginal anti‐fungals for the treatment of uncomplicated vulvovaginal candidiasis. The secondary objectives of the review were to assess the cost‐effectiveness, safety and patient preference of oral versus intra‐vaginal anti‐fungals. No statistically significant differences were observed in clinical cure rates of anti‐fungals administered by the oral and intra‐vaginal routes for the treatment of uncomplicated vaginal candidiasis. No definitive conclusion can be made regarding the relative safety of oral and intra‐vaginal anti‐fungals for uncomplicated vaginal candidiasis. The decision to prescribe or recommend the purchase of an anti‐fungal for oral or intra‐vaginal administration should take into consideration: safety, cost and treatment preference. Unless there is a previous history of adverse reaction to one route of administration or contraindications, women who are purchasing their own treatment should be given full information about the characteristics and costs of treatment to make their own decision. If health services are paying the treatment cost, decision‐makers should consider whether the higher cost of some oral anti‐fungals is worth the gain in convenience, if this is the patient's preference.
The health condition is so, err, popular because every woman naturally has yeast (aka candida) brewing in their vaginas. But sometimes an overgrowth can occur, and that's when problems pop up. "Anything that can throw off the environment of your vagina can cause yeast infections, whether it's medication, excess moisture, condoms, IUDs, or even tampons," says Angelique Mason, a family nurse practitioner at Hahnemann University Hospital in Philadelphia. Other common causes: Douching, using vaginal products that have fragrance chemicals, hanging out in wet or sweaty clothing and swimsuits, and wearing underwear that's too tight.
Some people find soaking in an apple cider vinegar bath offers relief, as the vinegar can help restore normal acidity to the vagina. Add two cups of vinegar to a shallow warm—not hot—bath, and soak for 15 minutes. Make sure you dry yourself thoroughly before getting dressed. Every body is different, but most women will see some improvement after two or three soaks.
Some study reviews have found no benefit of this approach, while others say there may be some. Studies are ongoing in the use of a slow-release vaginal product that has specific lactobacilli. However, it should be noted that people with a suppressed immune system or recent abdominal surgery should avoid probiotic supplements. Supplements aren't regulated by the FDA. However, enjoying yogurt or kefir as part of a balanced diet poses little risk.
This is because vaginal infections caused by bacteria, as well as some sexually transmitted infections (STI), may have symptoms very similar to those caused by yeast, but they require different treatments. Since yeast infection treatments have become available over the counter (OTC), many women simply visit the closest drugstore and buy an antifungal cream.