Almost every woman will experience the annoyance of a yeast infection at least once in her lifetime. While yeast infections tend to be minor health problems, the symptoms can be uncomfortable and embarrassing. A yeast infection is an irritation of the vagina and the area around the vulva. About 75 percent of women will have a yeast infection at some point during their lives.
Although there are four organisms that have been linked to yeast infections, most yeast infections are caused by candida albicans. This organism occurs naturally in the vagina and is normally kept under control by the body’s immune defenses. If the amount of candida bacteria is suddenly increased or if the environment in the vagina changes then a yeast infection can occur.
While some yeast infection risks are beyond your control many can be mitigated to reduce your chances of acquiring a yeast infection. Some common causes of yeast infections include:
- Lack of sleep
- Poor diet or extreme intake of sugary foods
- Having your period
- Taking birth control pills
- Taking antibiotics
- Taking steroids
- Compromised immune system from conditions like diabetes or HIV infection
Although yeast infections are not directly related to menopause there does seem to be a link to estrogen replacement therapies associated with menopause and yeast infections.
Some of the symptoms of a yeast infection include itching, burning or soreness, burning during urination, pain with sexual intercourse, vaginal discharge, rash or redness and odor. Women who have yeast infection symptoms should consult their doctors before proceeding with a treatment plan. That is because yeast infections symptoms are similar to the symptoms of other, more serious problems.
Yeast infections can be cured with antifungal medications in the form of creams, tablets, ointments or suppositories that are inserted into the vagina. Treatment for yeast infections will vary from person to person. The Food and Drug Administration now allows some of the antifungal medications that used to be available by prescription only to be sold over the counter.
Some people recommending eating yogurt or drinking buttermilk every day to increase the presence of healthy bacteria in their bodies. Some recommend drinking cranberry juice every day or taking enteric-coated acidophilus pearls to help increase the amount of “good” bacteria in your system. These are tablets are readily available at most health food stores.
Be sure to talk to your doctor before you self-medicate for yeast infections. Your doctor can help you decide on the best yeast infection treatment for you.
Candida Albicans: An organism that occurs naturally in the body that can cause a yeast infection if there is a sudden increase in the amounts of the organism.