Yeast infections, also called vaginal Candidiasis, is a fungal infection caused by Candida albicans. Candida fungus yeast infection affects mostly women and can lead to uncomfortable yeast infection symptoms such as itching, burning of the urinary tract, vaginal discharge, and pain during intercourse.
Yeast Infection Causes
The most common yeast infection causes are antibiotics, diabetes, and a weak immune system.
Antibiotics can disturb the vaginal environment by killing off beneficial bacteria, which then allows Candida to overgrow.
Diabetes increases the risk of yeast infections as it raises blood sugar levels and creates a favorable environment for fungus.
Weakened immune system
Lastly, a weakened immune system caused by stress or illness makes it easier for vaginal infections to take hold.
Change of sex partners
While vaginal yeast infections are not considered contagious, they are a common type of sexually transmitted infection (STI) that can be passed on to sexual partners through skin-to-skin contact and even contact with infected items such as towels, clothing, and sex toys.
Vaginal Yeast Infection long term effects
Complicated yeast infection can lead to more serious health issues. Untreated yeast infections can lead to recurrent yeast infections and can affect fertility. In addition, untreated yeast infection can weaken the immune system and potentially spread to other parts of the body, such as gastrointestinal tract. This can cause more serious health issues such as Candidal endocarditis (an infection of the heart valves) or systemic infections that affect other organs in the body. Finally, recurring yeast infections symptoms can sometimes be a sign of an underlying medical condition and should be evaluated by your healthcare provider.
Recurrent yeast infections
Having an occasional episode of mild yeast infection is not uncommon and can be easily treated. However, having at least four episodes of vaginal yeast infection within a year can be considered a recurrent yeast infection. In such a case, the course of treatment is different, and should take into consideration the length and the number of recurring episodes to identify the cause and prevent its recurrence.
Yeast infection can affect fertility in both men and women for different reasons. In women, vaginal yeast infections changes vaginal PH and the consistency of the cervical mucous, making it difficult for the sperm to move to reach the egg. On the other hand, in men yeast infection is usually caused by a reduction in sperm count and sperm viability (1). Thus, yeast infection can reduce the chances of successful fertilization.
Weakened immune system
Immune system is responsible for fighting off infections, including vaginal yeast infection. If yeast infection has turned into a long-term recurring yeast infection, it can cause the immune system to weaken as it continuously fights the yeast. This causes inflammation and impairs its ability to protect the body against other diseases.
Can spread to other body parts
Vaginal yeast infections can spread beyond the vaginal area and cause severe health complications. The infection can travel through the bloodstream and cause other parts of the body to become affected, including the mouth, esophagus, blood, and skin infections. Invasive Candidiasis occurs when yeast spreads throughout the body and organs and can be life-threatening if left untreated. If yeast infection spreads to heart, it can cause Candidal endocarditis, which is an infection of the inner lining of the heart (2).
Yeast infection treatment
The treatment includes dietary changes, along with antifungal medication, vaginal ointments, and probiotic supplements.
Eating a healthy, balanced diet, such as Candida Diet Meal Plan that is anti-inflammatory and low in sugars and starches may help to treat vaginal yeast infections. For example, yogurt contains beneficial bacteria known as probiotics which can help restore the balance of bacteria in the vagina. Garlic acts as a natural antifungal, helping to get rid of the yeast infection and its’ biofilms. Additionally, avoiding processed foods and sugary snacks, as well as limiting alcohol intake, can also help to reduce symptoms of vaginal yeast infection.
Antifungal medications are most effective in treating yeast infections, especially those caused by antibiotic use. Vaginal creams and ointments provide relief from itching and burning sensations while also working to clear up the infection. Some foods also acts as natural antifungal agents, including coconut oil, oregano oil and olive leaf extract. Consuming these can help reduce the symptoms of vaginal yeast infection.
Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that can be taken orally or applied topically, and they can help to restore the natural balance of vaginal bacteria. In many cases, medical professionals suggest taking probiotics while on antibiotics to reduce the potential risk of developing vaginal yeast infections. Additionally, eating foods rich in probiotics such as yogurt and kefir may also help to restore vaginal health.
An ideal environment for yeast infections is one that is moist and warm, which promotes the growth of a fungal infection. It’s best to avoid tight-fitting, synthetic clothing as it can trap moisture and promote the growth of vaginal yeast. Additionally, changing out of wet swimsuits and exercise clothes as soon as possible can help to reduce the risk of vaginal yeast infection.
To maintain a healthy vaginal flora, avoid scented vaginal products such as douches, perfumes, and vaginal sprays. These products can disrupt the vaginal environment, leading to vaginal yeast infections.
Vaginal Yeast Infections Outlook
The long-term outlook is positive for vaginal yeast infections as long as they are addressed quickly and managed properly. In the majority of situations, vaginal yeast infections can be remedied in a matter of days to weeks with suitable treatment and preventive steps. For chronic yeast infections, long-term treatment is often necessary along with lifestyle and dietary changes. See a doctor if vaginal yeast infections persist or if home treatments are not working.