A yeast infection is a fungal bacteria that causes an irritation in the vaginal and vulva area. Yeast infections are commonly found in females and may occur from any form of sexual activity, however it is not a sexually transmitted disease (STD).
Symptoms of a yeast infection:
- Vaginal discharge (thick clumpy white/yellowish or watery form)
- Itchiness in the vaginal/ vulva area
- Irritation, painful, swelling and redness in the vagina
- Burning while urinating
- Vaginal rash
What causes yeast infections?
The vulva consists of the labia (also known as lips), urethra, vaginal opening and clitoris which form the outer part of the female’s genitalia. The vagina is naturally made up of a balanced mix of yeast, candida and bacteria. Certain lactobacillus acidophilus (good bacteria) prevents excessive amounts of yeast in the vagina, however, when there is an imbalance of bacteria in the body, an overgrowth of yeast occurs. A healthy vaginal pH balance ranges between 3.5 to 4.5. When a woman’s pH balance is below the normal range, you are more prone to yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis.
“Overall health can affect vaginal pH as well as hormonal status. Women who are well hydrated, follow a well balanced diet which includes things like yogurt, and practice safe sex will have a normal vaginal pH. Harsh soaps used within the vulvar and vaginal areas can be harmful.” Speaking of harsh soaps, if anyone has ever advised you to douche, don’t do it. “Douching is not recommended as it can wash out the ‘good’ bacteria which are essential for vaginal health,” says Dr. Rinku Mehta. Yeast infections are likely to clear up on its own. The infection may be treated with over the-counter antifungal cream for a week. If your symptoms persist, it would be recommended to visit your doctor for prescribed oral medication to treat the infection.
How to prevent getting a yeast infection?
- Avoid using scented products
- Practice good hygiene
- Avoid douching
- Wear cotton underwear
- Keep yourself dry and clean at all times
- Do not wear tight-fitted underwear/ pants
It is important that women take care of their vulvar area to prevent any form of infections and discomfort. The main purpose is to keep the vulvar area dry and free from irritation as many infections are introduced to the vagina if not cared for properly.