What is yeast?
Yeast is a fungus scientifically referred to as Candida. The specific type of fungus most commonly responsible for vaginitis is Candida albicans. Yeast is commonly present on normal human skin and in areas of moisture, such as the mouth and vagina. In fact, it is estimated that between 20%-50% of healthy women normally carry yeast in the vaginal area.
The acidic balance of the vagina can be changed by your period (menstruation), pregnancy, diabetes, douche products, some antibiotics, birth control pills and steroids. Moisture and irritation of the vagina also seem to encourage yeast to grow.
causes of yeast infections
there are 2 good reasons to learn a bit about the causes of vaginal yeast infections. first, if you have recurring yeast infections, you can figure out what’s causing them and then work to prevent them, rather than just working to kill the yeast every time they take over. second, if you know what kinds of things cause you to get yeast infections, you can be alert for symptoms and treat them early on with the generally-milder do-it-yourself remedies, rather than bombarding your body with drugs.
Candidiasis, commonly called yeast infection or thrush, is a fungal infection (mycosis) of any of the Candida species, of which Candida albicans is the most common. Candidiasis thereby encompasses infections that range from superficial, such as oral thrush and vaginitis, to systemic and potentially life-threatening diseases. Candida infections of the latter category are also referred to as candidemia and are usually confined to severely immunocompromised persons, such as cancer, transplant, and AIDS patients, whereas superficial infections of skin and mucosal membranes by Candida causing local inflammation and discomfort is common in many human populations.
What are the signs of a yeast infection?
The most common symptom of a yeast infection is extreme itchiness in and around the vagina. Other symptoms include:
* Burning, redness, and swelling of the vagina and the area around it
* Pain when urinating
* Pain or discomfort during sex
How is a vaginal yeast infection diagnosed?
It’s easy to guess wrong about a vaginal infection. See your doctor if you aren’t sure what you have or if this is the first time you have had these symptoms. Also see your doctor if you are pregnant. Your doctor may want to do a vaginal exam.
Azole medications are a family of antifungal drugs that end in the suffix “-azole.” They block the manufacture of ergosterol, a crucial material of the yeast cell wall. Without ergosterol, the yeast cell wall becomes leaky and the yeast die. Fortunately, ergosterol is not a component of human membranes, and azoles do not harm human cells.
After the first infection, if you develop another infection and you are absolutely certain it is a yeast infection, you can treat it at home with over-the-counter vaginal creams such as miconazole or clotrimazole. Symptoms that don’t go away should be evaluated by your gynecologist or primary health care provider.