How it Happens
We all have a little yeast on various areas of our skin. They just hang out and usually don’t cause any trouble. Yeast is a type of fungus (I know, ick!), but they’re everywhere, and opportunistic little fellas. Meaning that when our immune systems are out of whack, they take the “opportunity” to overgrow, and multiply and make more little yeastie beasties.
You May Be More Susceptible to Yeast if You Have:
- Recently been on antibiotics
- Taken steroids
- Experienced a roller coaster of hormone changes in pregnancy, puberty or menopause
- Just started or stopped taking the birth control pills or the NuvaRing
- Diabetes, and
- Been on chemo or are seriously ill with a compromised immune system.
What About Stress?
Yes, I’m here to tell you, if you’ve been totally stressed out with lack of sleep, your immune system is suffering and yes, you could get a yeast infection. So don’t feel bad, just try to get back in balance.
How do You Know if it’s Yeast?
Most women will notice:
- Intense itching in and around the vagina
- The itching seems to be worse at night
- Their skin may burn, be red and tender
- Sex may be painful
- They may also notice a white curdy discharge, and
- Yeast infections are typically is odorless, but some women do say they can detect a “yeasty smell”.
There are many effective over the counter and prescription treatments for yeast infections. No matter what you use though, it takes 3 days to feel complete relief. There are creams and suppositories for the vagina that are offered in 1 day, 3 day or 7 day treatments.
You may also have been prescribed Diflucan, an oral medication. Partners usually don’t need to be treated.
What About Yogurt?
- Yes, I’m here to tell you, this works. Eat more yogurt for a few good reasons.
- It’s loaded with calcium
- It’s loaded with protein, and
- The lactobacillus in yogurt helps your stomach and vagina maintain a healthy pH and prevents yeast from overgrowing.
How is it Diagnosed?
We use a cotton swab to obtain some of the discharge and look at it under a microscope. Sometimes, we might use a Nickerson’s culture if we’re not sure. This is what yeast looks like under the microscope:
Women can prevent yeast infections by:
- Avoiding the use of pads every day
- Not wearing super tight clothing
- Changing out of swimsuits and exercise clothes quickly
- Never douching
- Also eating plenty of yogurt
- Getting plenty of rest and taking care of yourself, and
- Taking a probiotic with lactobacillus during and after any antibiotic use.
What About Sex?
Using condoms with new partners helps prevent all sorts of infections, including yeast. Yeast isn’t sexually transmitted, but sex can change the pH and lead to infections. Also, if a woman is battling a STD, her immune system will be overworked and that’s when the opportunistic yeasties can overgrow.
What if You Don’t Feel Better After 3-5 Days?
You may need another round of treatment or a few more days. If that doesn’t work, it may not be yeast after all, but instead is a bacterial infection and need a different treatment.
I hope this helps answer your questions about yeast infections.