Yeast infection or scientifically known as Candidiasis is caused by a natural fungus called Candida Albicans. These are naturally found in small quantities in usually wet areas like the mouth, digestive tract, and external reproductive organs.
Sometimes, these regions of your body could become out of balance due to different possible reasons like excessive drinking of beer, pregnancy, monthly period, to just simply being excessively clean. If this happens then the candida will eventually grow rapidly. Its overgrowth is what causes yeast infection.
Causes of Yeast Infections in Women
If there are “good” bacteria that protect the vaginal environment, how do you get a yeast infection? There are several factors which can bring about a proliferation of Candida, the fungus that causes yeast infection.
These include: Use of certain medications
Antibiotics – sometimes prolonged or repeated use of antibiotics can kill “good” bacteria and allow harmful microbes like fungi to proliferate Steroids – prolonged use of steroids causes weakening of the immune system allowing “opportunistic” fungi to propagate Birth control pills – can cause hormonal changes that can adversely affect the acidity of the vagina
Hormone therapy – can upset the balance of acidity and microorganism in the vagina.
What Are The Symptoms Of Female Yeast Infection?
A vaginal discharge is normal especially when the woman nears her menstrual cycle. A discharge however that is thick, white to yellowish usually resembling a soft cheese, and odourless always if not at all times signifies an infection.
Excessive itching and a burning sensation at any time also indicate that something is wrong. If you feel pain while urinating on the other hand means that the vaginal part is starting to swell and turn red, again means an infection.
What Are The Symptoms Of Male Yeast Infection?
Men usually tend to ignore these common signs which should not be the case. Excessive muscle pain without any obvious reasons, extreme craving for sugary and other highly sweet foods, diarrhoea are common symptoms. Itchiness and burning sensations in the tip and lower part of the penis is a more serious sign of infection, thus, immediate medical attention should be sought. Tenderness of the penis especially after sexual intercourse with red spots on the tip again leads to an infection.
Certain Medical Conditions
Some medical conditions can also explain what causes yeast infections, including:
Diabetes – a rise in blood sugar can affect the cells of the vagina and cause a decrease in its acidity
Cancer and chemotherapy – can weaken the immune system, leading to increased susceptibility to yeast infection
HIV/AIDS – due to a decrease in immune function, an overgrowth of yeast occurs.
Normal hormonal changes (increased or decreased estrogens levels) in women can upset the chemical and biological balance in the vagina, such as those related to:
There are other yeast infection causes that are related to one’s daily, hygienic, or sexual practices such as:
- Frequent douching – can kill or wash away “good” bacteria, allowing yeast overgrowth
- Use of feminine hygiene sprays or deodorants
- Use of tampons or other objects inserted in the vagina
- Use of spermicidal condoms or other birth control methods with spermicidal
- Use of tight, non-cotton underwear or panty liners
These factors can cause local irritations and changes in the vaginal environment that can invite yeast to grow in large numbers, causing inflammatory symptoms.
What to Do
Yeast infection can be a very annoying and embarrassing problem, since one can develop an abnormal vaginal discharge that is associated with intense itching and pain. Although it is not a serious condition, it can be bothersome, especially if it is a recurring problem.
Find out if any of these risk factors is what causes a yeast infection and determine if it can be avoided. For instance, one should avoid douching and using feminine sprays or deodorants because these are unnecessary.
The vagina is a self-cleaning organ, and women can use mild, unscented soap to wash the outer part, not inside it. One must also avoid wearing tight underwear or daily panty liners which can increase the local temperature and moisture in the area, making it conducive for growth of yeast.
Spermicides contain nonoxynol-9, substance that is harsh enough to kill “good” bacteria and upset the balance in microorganisms and acidity. Condoms, spermicidal creams and other birth control devices with this substance must be avoided.
A scratch or local irritation in the vagina can be a good medium for yeast overgrowth, so one must be careful about inserting tampons or other objects in the vagina.
In women experiencing hormonal changes or certain medical problems that can contribute to the vaginal infection it is best to consult a physician for proper diagnosis and treatment.
Women who have type 2 diabetes usually experience vaginal yeast infection especially if their blood sugar levels are uncontrolled. One can prevent the infection by reducing sugar intake, eating more fibre-rich foods and probiotic food products that can increase one’s lactobacilli.
One should also ask a health care provider if certain medications are causing the symptoms, which are considered side effects of the drugs. This should be done to avoid unnecessary or abrupt cessation of the medication which can be harmful (for example, steroids).
Prasanta Chatterjee is involved in healthcare market research since 2009. He loves to write about alternative health, herbal health along with general healthcare.