A common misconception about vaginal infections is that they are exclusively sexually transmitted. The truth is that many of the most common types of vaginal infections can be caused by something as simple as an imbalance in the vagina’s natural bacteria. A yeast infection is an infection that results from the overgrowth of yeast, a type of fungus, in the vagina. During the infection, an imbalance in the vagina’s healthy bacteria occurs, allowing the yeast to flourish. The National Women’s Health Resource Center estimates that as many as 75% of all women will be diagnosed with at least one vaginal yeast infection during their lifetimes.
Although symptoms may vary from patient to patient, yeast infections are typically characterized by intense vaginal itching, burning, pain during sex, and a white, odorless vaginal discharge that resembles cottage cheese. Yeast infections are also among the most common causes of vaginitis, an inflammation of the vagina associated with vaginal discharge and irritation. However, in many cases a yeast infection can occur without showing any symptoms at all. This can make treatment difficult without a proper diagnosis. That’s why the board-certified gynecologists at Gynecology Associates of Gwinnett are here to provide some helpful suggestions for how to prevent yeast infections before they occur.
The first step to preventing yeast infections is understanding what causes them. Sometimes taking certain antibiotics can lead to a yeast infection. Some yeast infections occur as a result of elevated estrogen levels that occur in pregnant women or women taking hormone therapy. Other health conditions that can make women especially vulnerable to yeast infections include diabetes and HIV.
To help minimize your potential risk of developing a vaginal infection, we recommend the following tips:
- Keep your vaginal area clean by using mild, unscented soap and rinsing well with water.
- After using the restroom, wipe from front to back to avoid spreading yeast or other bacteria towards the vagina or urinary tract.
- Wear breathable cotton underwear that will help keep your genital area dry without retaining excess moisture.
- Try to avoid tight-fitting clothing like panty hose and very tight jeans that may increase your body heat in the genital area.
- Change out of wet clothes as soon as possible, as keeping wet clothes on for too long can create a welcoming environment for yeast and potentially harmful bacteria.
- Always wear a pad if you experience a vaginal infection during you menstrual period and make sure to change pads or tampons often during menstruation.
- Do not douche and refrain from using deodorized tampons or feminine sprays, powders, or perfumes. These items can change the normal balance of bacteria in your vagina.
- Cut down on your sugar intake, as high sugar levels can help promote yeast production in the body.
Thankfully, yeast infections can be quite simple to diagnose and treat for a board-certified gynecologist. During your visit to Gynecology Associates of Gwinnett, we will discuss your symptoms in-depth, perform a pelvic exam, and take a vaginal sample to help determine the specific type of bacteria or yeast causing your infection so that we can treat it more effectively. Yeast infections can typically be treated with either a pill or a topical cream (or sometimes both) and the full course of treatment usually lasts a week or less. For more information or to request an appointment today, please contact Dr. Kristine Gould at Gynecology Associates of Gwinnett today.