What is a Vaginal Yeast Infection?

Yeast InfectionA vaginal yeast infection is caused by a type of fungus called Candida.  Around 75% of women will get a yeast infection at some point during their life.  Having the right information about an infected vagina can make an uncomfortable experience just a little bit easier.

How do yeast infections form?
The vaginal flora refers to the collection of natural organisms that reside in the vagina.  In healthy vaginas, the vaginal flora exists in a very balanced state.  For an infection to occur, something has to happen that disrupts that balance and allows unhealthy fungi or bacteria to outgrow the healthy kind.  You already know that Candida is the fungus that causes yeast infection.  Another infection, bacterial vaginosis, is commonly caused by the bacterium Gardnerella, along with other kinds.

What are the symptoms?
A vaginal yeast infection produces one main, unmistakable symptom: a thick, white discharge with the texture of cottage cheese.  It’s no more pleasant than it sounds.  This discharge is what doctors look for to confirm a suspected yeast infection diagnosis.  An odor isn’t always present with yeast infections.  Itching and burning are common.

How are yeast infections treated?
There are a few different treatment options for a vaginal yeast infection.  Prescription medication can be obtained right at the doctor’s office after you’ve been diagnosed.  This is usually in the form of an antifungal.  There are over-the-counter antifungal creams as well, but these tend to be messy.  Prescription antifungal medication is relatively effective, but some women find it doesn’t cure their infections for good.  For this reason, home remedies and alternative cures are becoming more and more popular to treat yeast and other kinds of infections.

What are some of the alternative treatments?
A lot of women favor yogurt as a home remedy for a yeast infection.  You can simply eat it, around two cups a day, or you can soak a tampon with an unflavored, sugar-free variety.  This can then be inserted into the vagina.  You can do this a couple times a day until you see improvement.  Another common treatment is to soak in a bath containing a cup or two of apple cider vinegar, which has numerous antibacterial and antifungal properties.  Some women even vaginally insert cloves of garlic wrapped in cheesecloth.  Although smelly, this treatment is known to work wonders.

What happens if left untreated?
A vaginal yeast infection rarely causes any serious complications other than the unpleasant initial symptoms.  This doesn’t mean you should leave the infection untreated, though.  Your vagina will be healthier and you’ll feel more comfortable and confident if you treat the infection as soon as possible.

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