Understanding Yeast Infections

Up to 75% of women have experienced it at some point in time – soreness, painful urination, redness and painful sexual intercourse. Unfortunately, not all women know what to do when they get a vaginal infection. Most simply bear with it, suffering with the pain and discomfort and hoping that it will clear by itself. For some women, vaginal infections are a recurrent problem.

Understanding why yeast infections happen can help stop them from recurring and provide better care for your vagina.

WHAT IS IT?

Yeast infections that happen at the vagina is an inflammation caused by an overabundance growth of a fungi known as candidiasis. There are many types of candidiasis, with the most common fungi infection at the vagina being the candida albicans.

These fungi are usually harmless and exist in other parts of the body that are moist such as the armpits, mouth, skin folds and breast. Problems arise only when the fungi grows excessively, due to various reasons such as smoking, stress, poor diet, and poor hygiene.

The inflammation causes severe vaginal itching, stinging and pain at the vagina and thick smelly discharge, which is very disturbing socially and emotionally. What makes it worse is that most women shy away from seeking treatment, when in fact the infection is easily cleared with medications such as antibiotics.

The problem is more prevalent among post menopausal women. The lack of estrogen thins the vaginal walls, while drying up the mucus membranes at the vagina. This often leads increased vaginal infections especially when coupled with poor personal hygiene.

PREVENTING VAGINAL INFECTIONS

Like most conditions, vaginal infections are best prevented to avoid the pain and discomfort that affects confidence, work, social and family life. Here are some simple do’s and don’ts that can help:

DO:

1) Take lots of fresh fruits, vegetables and probiotics that increase your immunity to infections.

2) Change your underwear daily.

3) Use a mild, unscented feminine wash that is ph balanced to avoid disrupting the natural balance of bacteria at the vagina.

4) See a doctor if you are suffering from itching, bad odour or pain at the vagina.

5) Change your menstrual pads regularly to avoid bruising and risk of infections.

Don’t:

1) Leave tampons or contraceptive devices inside your vagina longer than necessary.

2) Wear tight-fitting underwear that restricts air and blood circulation.

3) Use harsh soaps, perfumes or body wash to clean the sensitive parts of your vagina.

4) Self-medicate with herbal baths or alternative medicine if you suspect you have a vaginal infection. It could make it worse as it may be something else and not a yeast infection.

5) Be afraid to touch or clean your vagina. It’s an important part of your body that you must be familiar with in order to recognise abnormal changes that indicate serious conditions such as a sexually-transmitted disease.

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