It shouldn’t come as a surprise that your vagina is designed to fend off infections and keep itself clean. However, there’s every possibility that you can develop a yeast infection or candidiasis, a common medical condition found in women. A healthy vagina always has yeast cells and bacteria in good measure. But when there’s an imbalance of these micro-organisms, the yeast cells can multiply and cause intense itching, swelling, and irritation in your genital region.
What Is A Yeast Infection?
As you age, several factors affect your vaginal health, including your diet, medications, or even pH imbalance. These can lead to a whole host of serious complications including the most common of them all – a yeast infection.
Yeast infections are caused by Candida albicans. It affects 3 out of every 4 women, and many report to have had recurrent episodes of this infection. Symptoms of the infection include itching, burning, and pain while urinating or having an intercourse. One of the most common visible symptoms of yeast infection is the formation of a thick, odorless discharge which resembles cottage cheese.
Causes Of A Yeast Infection
To deal with a yeast infection caused by a chemical imbalance in your vagina, you need to be aware of what really causes the imbalance in the first place. Here are the leading causes of a yeast infection:
Many antibiotics are known to alter the normal, healthy flora of your vagina. These medications, when taken in excess or on a daily basis, can sometimes affect both bacterial and fungal flora, which increases the risk of a yeast infection. A study showed that antibiotics used to treat bacterial infections have the ability to lower the amount of Lactobacillus, good bacteria present in your vagina.1
2. Weak Immune System
Your immune system plays a crucial role in killing pathogens and protecting your body. When any one part of your immune system functions below par, your body is at risk. Candida, the organism that causes a yeast infection, affects your immune system by creating an imbalance in your gut flora. It destroys your healthy gut flora and affects the digestive tract.
When there is an imbalance in healthy bacteria that fight off diseases, it directly affects your immune system. As a result, these harmful yeast cells attach themselves to your intestinal membrane and penetrate into your bloodstream. This can quite possibly lead to an inflammation and a strong immune system response.
Your body goes through a lot of changes during pregnancy. Yeast feeds on sugar, and when you are pregnant, you secrete more sugary vaginal discharge. A yeast infection during pregnancy can be caused by the following:
- Hormonal changes during pregnancy
- Taking hormone pills, antibiotics, or steroids
- Gestational diabetes
- High blood sugar levels
- Sexual intercourse2
The link between diabetes and yeast infection is unknown to many of us. But the truth is that yeast infections are more common in diabetics as yeast can grow better when your sugar levels are high.3 Besides causing yeast infection in women, diabetes can also put men at risk of an infection with the help of a species of candida called Candida balanitis.4
5. Sanitary Pads And Panty Liners
Using scented sanitary pads and panty liners, intimate washes that contain harsh chemicals, and cosmetic products on your privates can not only cause irritation but also lead to the growth of yeast cells in your vagina. Additionally, not changing your pad or tampon every 3 hours will make you prone to a yeast infection. Maintaining good hygienic habits at all times can keep yeast infections at bay.
6. Sexual Intercourse
Yeast infections aren’t considered to be a sexually transmitted infection. However, sex can cause an imbalance in the pH levels of your vagina. It is also possible for a woman to transmit a yeast infection to her partner during intercourse.5
If you have a vaginal yeast infection, it’s safe for you to perform an oral sex act on your partner. But, it isn’t really a good idea for your partner to perform one on you – hold off until your symptoms go away. While sexual contact can spread a yeast infection, women who aren’t sexually active are just as likely to get it.
Apart from these common causes, you can develop a yeast infection because of other factors, such as a lack of sleep, tight clothing, birth control pills, low estrogen levels, or poor hygiene. It’s important for you to keep your lady parts in tip-top shape and be concerned about your vaginal health at all times.
|↑1||Kurowski, Kurt, Rita Ghosh, Satinder K. Singh, and Kenneth D. Beaman. “Clarithromycin-induced alterations in vaginal flora.” American journal of therapeutics 7, no. 5 (2000): 291-295.|
|↑2||Candidiasis. Harvard Medical School.|
|↑3||Peer, A. K., A. A. Hoosen, M. A. Seedat, J. Van Den Ende, and M. A. K. Omar. “Vaginal yeast infections in diabetic women.” South African Medical Journal 83, no. 10 (1993): 727-729.|
|↑4||Yeast Infection. Diabetes Forum.|
|↑5||Vaginitis. National Center for Biotechnology Information.|