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Vaginal Yeast Infection: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment


What is a Yeast Infection?

Small amounts of candida are normally present in our bodies all the time but we usually have the right balance of bacteria to prevent them from multiplying too much. Sometimes these yeast-like fungi do grow and this can cause an infection. These infections usually appear in the warm and moist parts of the body including the vagina. The most common type of yeast infections is in the vaginal area and a vaginal yeast infection is called vulvovagina candidiasis.

Vaginal Yeast Infection Symptoms

Frequent signs and symptoms of a vaginal yeast infection are itching and irritation in the vagina as well as swelling and redness of the vulva, the folds of skin outside the vagina. There may also be a thick, white discharge from the vagina and a burning sensation when urinating.

It is important to seek medical advice if you are suffering from any of these symptoms in order to get a correct diagnosis because it is possible to confuse the symptoms of a vaginal yeast infection with those of sexually transmitted diseases as well as other vaginal infections.

Hot Weather and vaginal yeast infections

Hot weather is a big factor in the development of yeast infections as the fungus thrives in hot moist areas of the body.

A vaginal yeast infection  is also known as candidiasis (pronounced: can-dih-dy-uh-sis) and is the name for a common infection caused by a yeast-like fungus called candida.

Vaginal Yeast infections and antibiotics

The vagina contains mucous and harmless bacteria which act together to defend the vagina from candida (or thrush) as well as other germs. If you are taking antibiotics, then these natural defenses can be altered or upset causing the candida to take hold. The conditions candida likes best are those found in the warm, moist and airless parts of the body. If you having a vaginal discharge and you have recently completed a course of antibiotics, then it is likely that you have thrush.

For many years now, it has been common practice for women on antibiotics to eat a daily tub of yogurt as a remedy to prevent thrush. In fact, forty per cent of women on antibiotics tend to take yogurt for this very reason and in addition, many doctors and pharmacists also recommend this therapy to women when prescribing or dispensing antibiotics. However, in findings published in the British Medical Journal very recently, it was stated that lactobacillus acidophilus (a key bacterium in yogurt) was not effective in the prevention of thrush after a course of antibiotics.

How to Avoid Vaginal Yeast Infections

Wear white cotton underwear, particularly in the summer and loose clothing with breathable fabric like cotton. 

Yeast grows in  warm, moist conditions so take care to avoid nylon and other synthetic underwear at all times.

Tight clothing such as jeans and exercise wear can cause warm, moist conditions for yeast overgrowth. 

Do not sit around in a wet bathing suit after swimming.

Your bathing and hygiene routine is also very important. Some women have an allergic reaction to the dyes and perfumes in soaps, lotions and sanitary products as well as laundry detergent and if this reaction causes irritation, then a vaginal yeast infection can quickly follow. It is important to avoid perfumed products - there are many mild and fragrance-free ranges available now.

It is best to shower rather than bath (so that the vagina is not sitting in water for long periods of time) and then you should make sure you carefully dry off the vaginal area afterwards.

When using the toilet, wipe with toilet paper from front to back. 

Avoid using tampons until the yeast infection is treated.

Take warm, salty baths frequently or sit in a bowl of warm, salty water.

So with a little care and a subtle change in your life style, these annoying vaginal yeast infections can be avoided.