If you’ve ever experienced a yeast infection, then you understand the discomfort and inconvenience it causes. For some women, yeast infections can be a frequent or even a chronic problem that interferes with everyday life. Yeast infections are so common in women that 3 out of 4 will get one or more yeast infections. Whether it is your first yeast infection or one of many, you are probably wondering what exactly a yeast infection is and if you need to see a gynecologist in Tennessee.
A Yeast Infection is Fungal
Unlike many infections that are caused by bacteria and viruses, a yeast infection is one of the few that is caused by a fungus. This fungus, called Candida, is a naturally occurring microscopic organism that lives in the vagina. Usually, those yeast cells live in a balance with several other types of bacteria, but when there is an imbalance, then those yeast cells can multiply.
There are several reasons the body may become imbalanced and lead to a yeast infection. It commonly occurs after taking a course of anti-biotics or during pregnancy. However, there are other scenarios that can lead to a yeast infection including a weak immune system, diabetes, poor diet, stress, sleep deprivation, foreign objects, and general hormone imbalances.
Symptoms of a Yeast Infection
As more and more yeast cells proliferate in the vagina, there is usually a set of unpleasant symptoms that accompany it. Most women who have a yeast infection experience itching, swelling, or soreness in addition to a grey or white discharge which may women describe as looking like cottage cheese. While a yeast infection is generally not considered to be a sexually transmitted disease, yeast infections have been known to spread via sexual contact.
Yeast infection symptoms can range from light to intense, and include:
- Itching and irritation in the vagina and vulva
- Extensive itching that causes cracks and sores
- A burning sensation, especially during intercourse or while urinating
- Redness and swelling of the vulva
- Vaginal pain and soreness
- Vaginal rash
- Thick, white, odor-free vaginal discharge with a cottage cheese appearance
- Watery vaginal discharge
How To Avoid Vaginal Candidiasis
There are a few precautions and preventative measures that can be taken to avoid the occurrence of a yeast infection. Most doctors advise to avoid douching and scented feminine items (like tampons) because these items change the balance of microorganisms in the vagina, potentially leading to a yeast infection. When it comes to douching, remember that the vagina is a self-cleaning organ, and douching is not needed except in very special circumstances.
It is also advised not to wear tight or wet clothing for extended periods of time. Summers in Tennessee can mean extra time in wet swimwear and this can lead to yeast overgrowth. Do not share undergarments or swimwear with others, as this could disrupt the balance of bacteria in your vagina.
Think twice about taking antibiotics. While antibiotics may be necessary to relieve other types of infections, they kill off good bacteria as well. When good bacteria are out of the picture, yeast can grow unbridled and out of control. The careful balance of good bacteria is what keeps the vagina healthy and fungal candida away.
Treating a Yeast Infection
While it is important to treat your yeast infection, keep in mind that it is nothing to be ashamed of or embarrassed about. A yeast infection may seem worrisome if you have never had one, but they are a very common occurrence. In fact, approximately 75% of women get a yeast infection at some point in their lives. If it is your first yeast infection, you may want to visit your doctor as a precaution (and to rule out other possible infections). Additionally, if you experience frequent or chronic yeast infections, you should also seek medical advice to learn more about how you can prevent future yeast infections. However, there are over-the-counter anti-fungal treatments that can be used to treat a yeast infection at home.
Despite their prevalence, it’s important to treat vaginal yeast infections early. Not only will you alleviate uncomfortable symptoms, but if left untreated the infection can become more widespread in your body and lead to other unpleasant complications like itching or discharge.
Remedies for vaginal yeast infections are now easier than ever. Treatments take a few days on average, but in more severe cases it can take up to two weeks before symptoms subside. For simple yeast infections, your doctor will usually prescribe a 1-to-3 day course of an antifungal cream or ointment. These medications can be in either prescription or over-the-counter form and your gynecologist may recommend something stronger like tablets that need prescriptions on them.
Common medications include:
- butoconazole (Gynazole)
- clotrimazole (Lotrimin)
- miconazole (Monistat)
- terconazole (Terazol)
- fluconazole (Diflucan)
Yeast infection vs. BV
Bacterial vaginosis is the most common type of vaginal infection in women aged 15 to 44. The primary causes are bacterial imbalances from douching and sex, but it’s not a fungal infection like you would normally get with a yeast infection. BV has been known to have some pretty strong fishy smells too!
BV is tough to identify yourself and can cause long-term complications if left untreated. The symptoms of Bacterial Vaginosis include discharge (sometimes an “egg white consistency), burning sensations during urination or intercourse, itching in sensitive areas around your vulva such as labia minora and clitoris hood), and a strong fishy odor.
Unlike a yeast infection, you will need to visit your gynecologist in Tennessee for an antibiotic prescription in order to clear up BV. Your physician should be able to help distinguish the difference between that and yeast infection with a quick test.
When to See a Gynecologist in Brentwood, Tennessee
If you think you may have a yeast infection, do not wait around to treat it. There’s no need to feel uncomfortable any longer! Call to schedule your appointment with one of the OB/GYN’s in Brentwood and Cool Springs, Tennessee.
If you are experiencing any of these, please give us a call:
- This is the first time you have had any signs of an infection
- You are not sure what type of infection you may have
- Over-the-counter vaginal antifungal products aren’t working
- Your symptoms worsen or you develop more