How common are Vaginal Yeast Infections?
One of the most common vaginal infections is a yeast infection, also known as vaginal thrush. At least 3 out of 4 women will experience one or more yeast infections during their lifetime. It isn’t a serious condition and it will rarely need medical intervention, but it can cause uncomfortable symptoms.
Why Do Vaginal Yeast Infections Happen?
Yeast and bacteria live naturally throughout your body an on your skin. It is generally harmless and in some cases can be beneficial to your health. However, if the levels of bacteria or yeast become unbalanced you might start experiencing symptoms.
Yeast infections are caused by a yeast in the vagina called candida growing out of control. An overgrowth of candida can be caused by taking antibiotics, being pregnant, having a hormonal imbalance, or by taking oral birth control pills. Thrush isn’t a sexually transmitted infection but being sexually active does make a woman more likely to have a yeast infection.
What is Candida?
Candida albicans is a type of yeast, or fungus, that you naturally have in your body. Your vagina contains a balanced mix of bacteria and yeast (including candida), but if the levels of candida become unbalanced you could end up getting a yeast infection.
Symptoms of a Vaginal Yeast Infection
Most yeast infections will clear up within a few days and will only cause mild to moderate symptoms. Symptoms can include:
- A burning sensation during sex or urination
- Thick, white, and lumpy vaginal discharge
- A rash around your vagina and/or vulva
- Redness and swelling of the vulva
- Pain or soreness
- Watery discharge
More severe yeast infections that require medical treatment are called complicated yeast infections. Much rarer than typical yeast infections, complicated yeast infections are more likely in those who have uncontrolled diabetes, have a compromised immune system, or are pregnant.Signs and symptoms of a complicated yeast infection include:
- 4 or more yeast infections in a 12 month period
- Redness and itching severe enough to cause tears or sores.
Preventing Yeast Infections
Some ways to keep your vagina happy and healthy will also help prevent infections like thrush from developing. You should:
- Wipe back to front after using the toilet
- Avoid using perfumed soaps or cosmetics in or around the vagina
- Wear loose clothing
- Wear underwear made of natural fibres like cotton
- Drink plenty of water
- Take tights and pantyhose off as soon as you get home
- Always change out of wet or sweaty clothing as soon as possible
How to Treat a Vaginal Yeast Infection
Many yeast infections will clear up on their own without any treatment. However, if your symptoms are too uncomfortable there is effective vaginal thrush treatment you can use to get relief from thrush symptoms.
The two most common medications for vaginal yeast infections are antifungals that come in either cream or tablet form. Thrush capsules are taken orally while creams and gels are applied directly to the affected area. Most creams come with an applicator so you can apply the medication inside the vagina to get even more relief.
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