Yeast infections are a common, albeit uncomfortable, fact of life for many women. Yet there is an abundance of misinformation, particularly on the internet, of the main causes. Numerous medically oriented websites maintained by medical professionals do provide accurate information, but many other websites and articles by non-professionals provide confusing, and worse, sometimes incorrect information. This article is intended to give a straight-forward explanation of the major causes of yeast infection with a minimum of confusing and arcane medical terminology.
Yeast infections are the second most common type of vaginal infection (bacterial vaginosis is the most common). A little over 70% of all women develop at least one yeast infection during their lives. Over 40% of women have repeated episodes of infection.
Yeast grows naturally in the vagina, rectum, and mouth. Therefore, the presence of some yeast is normally not a problem and in fact, goes by unnoticed most of the time. However, the body’s natural chemical balance that is supposed to keep levels of yeast within a healthy range, can become out of balance. When this happens, unhealthy yeast-like organisms can grow more profusely in the body resulting in a viscous white discharge.
Yeast infections are primarily caused by a chemical imbalance in the body., The natural amount of yeast present in the human body becomes more than the body can safely tolerate. Some common causes of this imbalance include:
- Use of oral contraceptives
- Treatments of infection that use antibiotics
- Hot weather that causes excessive sweating in the vaginal region that then fosters fungal growth
- Non-ventilated clothing that retains heat and moisture and causes excessive sweating
- Higher than normal levels of stress
- Repeated intercourse over a short period of time
- A suppressed immune system (this includes HIV)
- Higher than normal carbohydrate intake, especially refined sugars and alcoholic beverages
Other common causes of yeast infection include irritants such as powders, detergents and soaps that come in direct contact with the skin
Symptoms may include:
- Discomfort during sexual intercourse
- Irritation in the vaginal region
- Itching in the vaginal region
- A thick, white curd-like discharge from the vagina
- A swelling, redness or cracking of the skin around the vagina
- A burning sensation felt mainly during urination
Men can also contract yeast infections. Most commonly, men get the infections from having unprotected sex with a partner who already has the infection. Left untreated, both partners will keep re-infecting each other.
Regardless of the causes of and the symptoms they may present, the final diagnosis and treatment should be made by a medical professional. There are over-the-counter medications available for women who have frequent yeast infections and who know when they are having another episode, however if a person is unsure whether what they have a one or not, they should seek professional medical advice. There is always the possibility that what may present itself as a yeast infection may actually be a more serious condition that requires different and more aggressive treatment. Studies have found that some women, particularly those who suffer from frequent infections, misdiagnose themselves and treat the symptoms, when in fact what they have is something different, and sometimes something more serious.
If a person suspects that what they have is a yeast infection, whether based on symptoms or past experiences, and there has been no change in sexual history (no new partner, no unprotected genital contact), they may elect to try one of the over-the-counter treatments first. If the symptoms do not go away, the person should of course always seek the guidance of their doctor.
Source by Craig Paulson