Candidiasis is the most common type of yeast infection and is caused by a type of fungus called Candida. This organism commonly penetrates and affects areas of the body such as the mouth, around dentures, under the breasts, the vagina, groin area, nail beds, and beneath other skin folds.
Yeast infections are more common in cases of poor hygiene, weakened immune systems, following antibiotic and steroid use, as well as hormonal changes during pregnancy, menstruation, and menopause.
Women are more prone to yeast infections, and three out of four women are affected during their lifetime by vaginal yeast infections. Men also may also develop a yeast infection, but it is less common. It is not primarily a sexually transmitted condition, but the infection can be transmitted between partners.
Yeast infection symptoms that recur relentlessly should receive medical attention, while others may be treated with over-the-counter drugs. A wide range of treatment options which include conventional and homeopathic therapies can alleviate symptoms and ensure less pain, discomfort, and embarrassment. There are also many natural cures for yeast infections that do not have the negative sides effects commonly associated with conventional medicine.
How is a Yeast Infection Diagnosed?
The diagnosis of a vaginal yeast infection will usually be determined by the following:
A vaginal examination
Samples of discharge will be examined under microscope
For chronic infections, the discharge may be cultured to determine what else may be present. A more serious condition such as chlamydia or gonorrhea can easily be mistaken for a yeast infection, so it is best to have yeast infection symptoms checked out by a medical practitioner, especially if the infection does not respond well to treatment.
What are the Symptoms of a Yeast Infection?The symptoms and signs of a yeast infection include:
Thick, white vaginal discharge (looks like cottage cheese) that is odorless
Irritated genital skin
Burning and pain during urination or sexual intercourse
Yeast infections can become widespread throughout the body (known as systemic candidiasis), and can then result in a variety of generalized symptoms, including fatigue, headaches, depression, aches and pains, digestive disturbances, and increased vulnerability to opportunistic infections.
What are the Causes of Yeast Infections?
A yeast infection is caused by the overgrowth of a fungus known as Candida albicans. Candida albicans is normally found in all people, but the levels are usually kept in check by the body.
There are many things that can create an imbalance leading to Candida overgrowth and infection.
Factors Contributing to Candida OvergrowthUse of antibiotics
Use of steroids
Hormonal changes during pregnancy, menstruation, and menopause
People with weakened immune systems because of cancer, steroid treatment, or conditions such as AIDS
Use of contraceptives such as birth control pills
Poor hygiene methods, such as not washing the vaginal area, or not wiping from front to back after using the toilet
Wearing tight trousers or jeans
Exposing the vaginal area to moisture such as a wet bathing suit
Help for Yeast Infections
Vaginal yeast infections may cause intermittent or recurring infections. If not treated immediately, yeast infections can become a serious condition. However, with the correct approach, yeast infection symptoms will respond well to treatment.
Conventional Treatment OptionsOver-the-counter medication such as creams and suppositories
Prescription creams and suppositories
Prescription oral medications
These conventional treatment options will only work successfully if preventative mechanisms are put into place such as eating a well-balanced diet, practicing good hygiene and safe sex, and cleansing the body’s system (see some useful tips on holistic treatment and prevention below).
Natural Cures for Yeast InfectionsThere are effective natural cures for yeast infections available that can help to soothe the discomfort and frustration of a yeast infection, resolving the infection without the use of prescriptions and OTC drugs. These remedies are 100% safe, non-addictive, and non-invasive. They contain ingredients such as Cymbopogon citratus (Lemon grass), Calendula officinalis, and Tabebuia impetiginosa (Pau d'arco bark). All have antibacterial and antifungal properties that effectively remove toxins and help to support the overall natural maintenance systems in the body. Consult a homeopath, herbalist, or naturopath for advice on the remedy that suits your symptoms.
More Information on Yeast Infections
Some Useful Tips for Women on PreventionThese precautionary measures will help to avoid and prevent yeast infections from recurring.
Eat a well-balanced diet, rich in vegetables, protein, and grain
Include yogurt into your diet, as it contains live cultures of lactobacilius acidophilis
Limit your intake of sugar, as increased sugar levels cause yeast to grow faster
Avoid refined and processed foods
Take nutritional supplements such as acidophilus
Avoid the scented variety of soaps, deodorant, talc, tampons, sanitary pads, panty liners, or toilet paper
Wipe yourself from front to back when visiting the toilet
Change your tampons and sanitary towels frequently when you are menstruating
Wear cotton underwear
Wash and dry your vagina area thoroughly before getting dressed, as moisture encourages the growth of yeast
Avoid sharing washcloths and towels
Vaginal douches increase the risk of yeast infection
Avoid wearing jeans or trousers that are tight at the crotch
Avoid wearing underwear or pajama pants to bed and allow the vagina to be exposed to air
Avoid sex if it feels painful, or use a lubricating gel during sex
Switch to non-hormonal contraceptives if medications such as birth control pills are causing recurrent yeast infections
Avoid unnecessary use of antibiotics, as they also cause yeast infections
When antibiotic use is unavoidable, combine antibiotics with probiotics to reduce the risk of yeast infection
Avoid the use of fabric softeners