How to Spot The Warning Signs of Yeast Infection
Yeast infections are kind of – to use a technical term – an icky part of sexual health, but one that’s easily taken care of. However, it’s far better to protect your wellbeing against yeast infections through a few simple steps. Let’s take a look at how you can stop yeast infections and, if that doesn’t work, spot the signs that your wellness has been affected.
Also known as candidiasis, a yeast infection is caused by a fungus called candida albicans. It usually occurs in warm, moist parts of your body, like your mouth and moist areas of your skin. When you have a vaginal yeast infection, it is known as vulvovaginal candidiasis. There are several reasons as to why candida can overgrow; stress, pregnancy, and illnesses that affect the immune system may allow yeast to multiply, as can certain medicines including birth control pills and steroids. If you take antibiotics for other conditions, the medicine might kill the good bacteria responsible for keeping the growth of candida in the vagina in check. You may also be at a greater risk of yeast infection if your blood sugar level is high, as occurs in people with poorly-controlled diabetes.
If you do have a yeast infection, it will probably be the most obvious right before your period, as the menstrual cycle causes hormonal changes. Tight clothing and underwear, or clothes made of materials like nylon that trap heat and moisture, might make it more likely for you to have a yeast infection, as this is the kind of environment that yeast thrives in. This is also the case for scented sanitary products and douching, so avoid these if you think they’re giving you a yeast infection. Although yeast infections may spread from one sexual partner to the other, it’s a rarity and, as such, is not considered a sexually transmitted infection (STI). However, if your partner does show symptoms, he or she may have to be treated.
The common signs and symptoms of yeast infections include:
- Itching and irritation in your vagina
- Redness, swelling, or itching in your vulva (which are the folds of skin outside your vagina)
- A thick, white discharge. This is usually odourless, but may smell like bread or yeast.
- Pain or burning when urinating or during sex
If any of these symptoms are affecting you, you should speak to your doctor. Some of these symptoms are similar to those you might find with an STI, but your doctor can give you the right diagnosis so that you can be treated appropriately. The test may involve your doctor taking a urine sample — to rule out a urinary tract infection — and swab some discharge from your vagina to examine under a microscope. Treatment for vaginal yeast infections usually involve a pill to swallow, or a cream, tablet or suppository to put in your vagina. Make sure that you abstain from sex until the infection has cleared up, as the medications for vaginal yeast infections can weaken condoms and diaphragms.
However, why let it get to that stage when you can prevent a yeast infection?
1. Dress right: What you wear can enable yeast infections to grow, so avoid wet bathing suits, tight jeans, and stretchy exercise gear. Nylon underwear, pantyhose, and other synthetic materials that trap moisture also make yeast infections more likely.
2. Watch out for beauty products: There are some dyes and perfumes in soaps, bath gels, lotions, sanitary products, and laundry detergents that some women react to, and this irritation can cause yeast infections to grow. Steer clear of perfumed products and to use mild and fragrance-free products when possible