Yeast infections are not only annoying, they are very common. Three out of four women will have a yeast infection at some point in their lives, and most women experience at least two infections. Those with recurrent infections may experience as many as four or more a year.
“Most yeast infections are easily treated. However, for some women, recurrent problems require a more specialized plan of care. In these cases, itching can become so severe that it causes swelling and sores. We’ve been very successful at treating these chronic infections and helping women avoid them,” said Dr. Anne Martinelli.
What causes a yeast infection (vaginal candidiasis)?
A healthy vagina contains a combination of yeast and bacteria, referred to as vaginal flora. The bacteria help form a perfect balance by preventing the overgrowth of yeast. If for any reason this equilibrium is disrupted, it can cause a yeast infection.
There are several possible causes of a yeast infection, but most are caused by a specific type of fungus called candida albicans. (Mayo Clinic).
In addition, there are situations that put you at greater risk for developing a yeast infection. These include:
- Using antibiotics (these contribute to the imbalance between yeast and bacteria)
- Having a compromised immune system
- Failing to control diabetes
- Increasing estrogen levels, which may be caused by oral contraceptives or hormone therapy
- Being pregnant.
While infections caused by candida albicans are common and generally easy to treat, recurring infections are sometimes caused by a less common fungus, which means we’ll need to provide a more specialized, long-term treatment.
What are the symptoms of a yeast infection?
The main symptom of a yeast infection is an intense itching and irritation around the vulva and vaginal areas. Other symptoms include:
- Burning pain during intercourse
- A red and swollen vulva
- Stinging or burning while urinating
- A vaginal rash
- Smelly discharge
- Vaginal discharge that resembles cottage cheese
- Vaginal soreness
In some women, particularly those with recurrent infections, the symptoms can be much more severe, causing itching and swelling so intense that it causes sores or tears.
Are there ways to prevent a yeast infection?
While most women will likely experience a yeast infection at some point in their lives, these precautions can greatly reduce your chances of developing one. We recommend that you:
- Wear underwear with a cotton crotch.
- Avoid tight-fitting panty hose.
- Stop douching—this removes healthy vaginal bacteria.
- Avoid tight underwear.
- Avoid staying in hot tubs or hot baths for long periods of time.
- Change out of wet attire—such as swimsuits and gym clothes—as soon as possible.
- Use antibiotics only when necessary. Remember that antibiotics will not help if you have a cold or viral infection.
If you have a yeast infection, please schedule an appointment with us, particularly if you experience four or more in one year. We’ll need to determine the type of fungus that is causing the problem so we can tailor a care plan that will specifically address your situation.
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We’ve treated young women undergoing their first pelvic exam and older women who have entered menopause. Whether you’re trying to get pregnant or need help for painful, irregular periods, we consider it a privilege to treat you we have a full scope of gynecological services available to treat you. We’ve provided the highest level of care for generations of women. We invite you to see why they have entrusted their care to our wonderful team of compassionate professionals. Contact us to schedule an appointment.
For more than 40 years, Chapel Hill OBGYN has served women in the Triangle area, sharing the joy of little miracles and supporting them during challenges. Our board-certified physicians and certified nurse midwives bring together the personal experience and convenience of a private practice with the state-of-the-art resources found at larger organizations. To schedule an appointment, please contact us for more information.