It is easy to treat however once it has you in its grips, you're going to spend some uncomfortable, itchy days. And it is more common than you think it is.
Vaginal thrush or yeast infection is a common problem for women. So common, in fact, that almost 75% of women will get it at least once in their lifetime, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the US. It is also easy to treat; however, once it has you in its grips, you're going to spend some uncomfortable, itchy days. You might experience some soreness around the labia and have discharge, thick and white or thin and watery. This could be accompanied by pain during sex and discomfort during peeing.
Also known as vaginal candidiasis, this fungus called Candida lives inside your body in places such as the mouth, throat, gut, and vagina and on the skin without causing any problems. It can multiply and cause an infection if the environment inside the vagina changes in a way that encourages its growth.
But there are more things that you should know about this condition since statistically, you could get it or probably already have:
It's believed that reproductive hormones such as estrogen encourage Candida growth and attachment to the inner lining of the vagina. It's estimated by CDC that around 75% of women will have at least one episode of vulvovaginal thrush while 40-45% will have two or more episodes in their lifetime.
While some might never get it, others might be fated to deal with it several times a year, according to gynecologist Dr. Antonio Pizarro, who spoke to The Huffington Post Canada. "The factors that predispose to more severe genital yeast infection or overgrowth include obesity and diabetes,” Pizarro says. Men can also get a yeast infection in their penis, but that happens once in a blue moon.
It can be transferred between partners because of sex, but it is not classified as a sexually transmitted infection (STI) since it can happen to people who are not sexually active as well. Since the infection affects genitals too, sexual activity can help in passing it, according to Cosmopolitan.
Since the fungus lives inside the mouth, throat, gut, vagina and on the skin, it can also happen in the mouth area, which is more common for babies and elderly people with dentures. If you're a breastfeeding mom you need to watch out since you could be prone to it too. It can also show up on your skin looking like a red rash.
There are a few preventive steps we can adapt to reduce the risk of catching the yeast infection. One way is to prevent vaginal overheating which can lead to the growth of yeast. And, the solution is pretty easy. Wear cotton underwear and avoid tight clothes. Probiotics can also help those who have recurring yeast infections.
If the case is an uncomplicated one, then over-the-counter treatments can be enough. These are most likely reasonably-priced antifungal treatments such as yeast infection creams and ovules. It works for those who don't have chronic medical conditions.
NHS UK recommends using pessaries, a special pill that you insert into your vagina using a special applicator, intravaginal creams or capsules that can be swallowed. However, these could have side effects like vomiting or an upset stomach.
You can get it if you're pregnant, or have sex when you're not fully aroused. This can lead to vaginal dryness and tightness during sex, which can trigger thrush. Other reasons include being on antibiotics, diabetes that is not under control or a weakened immune system due to HIV or chemotherapy.
You could find vaginal discharge that looks like cottage cheese in your panties. For women, it is odorless but it can have an unpleasant smell in males. "The cardinal symptom of yeast infection is itching accompanied by a thick white discharge from the vagina,” Pizarro says.
If you have been diagnosed with vaginal thrush, it is a good idea to stop consuming sugars and refined carbohydrates. You should also stop yeast or mold-containing foods like bread, cheese, alcohol, dried fruit, stock cubes, and peanuts. Instead, opt for food that is naturally anti-fungal like garlic and coconut oil.