Chronic Yeast Infections
What is a Vaginal Yeast Infection?
A vaginal yeast infection is an infection caused by an overgrowth of bacteria called candida albicans. This fungal infection can cause intense and uncomfortable yeast infection symptoms such as itching and cottage cheese-like discharge in your vagina. Also known as vaginal candidiasis, a vaginal yeast infection is very common and affects approximately 3 out of every 4 women at some point during their lifetime.
Even though a vaginal yeast infection isn’t a sexually transmitted disease, there is an increased chance of getting a yeast infection once you start becoming sexually active. There’s also been some studies linking yeast infections to oral-genital sex. This is because having oral sex can cause the bacteria from your partners mouth to enter your vagina and cause an overgrowth of bacteria and candida.
Usually, medications can effectively cure a vaginal yeast infection within a few days. But if you have four or more yeast infections within a year, you may have symptoms of a chronic yeast infection that requires a longer course of treatment and a guided maintenance plan from your doctor.
Chronic Yeast Infection Causes
You may be doing your best to prevent yeast infections, but some women find that even though they take precautions, they still seem to get yeast infections over and over again. Chronic yeast infection causes can come from several different possibilities. Some possible chronic yeast infection causes may include:
Recurring transmissions – Yeast infections from candida albicans aren’t always vaginal. They can occur on other areas of your body such as your skin and in your mouth. A yeast infection can be spread by skin to skin contact.
Your initial yeast infection wasn’t resolved – Your initial yeast infection may not have been resolved from your first course of treatment.
Excess moisture and humidity – Yeast loves to grow in wet and humid conditions. If you sweat a lot, wear damp clothing, or live in a humid environment, it can contribute to the chance of getting repeat yeast infections.
Yeast bacteria that is drug resistant – Although rare, some strains of yeast bacteria are resistant to common medications and can keep you from resolving your infection.
Do you really have a yeast infection?
If you have chronic yeast infections and medications don’t seem to be resolving your symptoms, you doctor may recommend a more long-term approach with a different antifungal medication. Your doctor may also advise you on different lifestyle changes and supplements such as probiotics.
Certain yeast infection symptoms can be similar to the symptoms of other medical conditions that could be mistaken for a yeast infection. They may include:
If you think you have a yeast infection that has returned or not resolved, it’s important to see your doctor so that a sample can be taken and cultured to determine if there is another underlying cause.
How Do You Manage Chronic Yeast Infections?
Once your doctor confirms that you have a yeast infection, it’s important to take your medication as prescribed by your doctor in order for you to avoid a chronic yeast infection. Consider the following tips to help keep yeast infections at bay:
Add a cleaner that contains bleach or distilled white vinegar to your laundry. Change your clothes regularly, along with your towels and sheets. Wash your underwear and other items that come in contact with the infected area in a separate wash cycle. This will help to prevent infecting others or giving yourself another infection.
When Should You Call Your Doctor?
Because a yeast infection can sometimes mimic the symptoms of sexually transmitted infections, it’s always a good idea to call your doctor and make an appointment if you think you have yeast infection symptoms. This is true especially if you have had sex with a new partner.
If you’ve had four or more yeast infections in one year’s time, then you may have recurrent vulvovaginal candidiasis. Your doctor may need to treat you for up to six months with an antifungal medication. You should also see your doctor if you are pregnant so any medications can be approved during your pregnancy.