What Exactly is a Yeast Infection?

What Exactly is a Yeast Infection?

We talk a lot about it at Imana Health, but what exactly is a yeast infection?

Yeast infections are one of the most common genital infections and are not sexually transmitted. A yeast infection occurs when there is an overgrowth of Candida, which is a type of fungus that can be present in the normal vaginal flora and cause no issues at all. When there is too much Candida in the vagina or the vulva, it can cause bothersome symptoms like itching, burning, vulvar irritation, pain with urination or a change in vaginal discharge and odour.  Some of these symptoms can be signs of other infections, so it’s a good idea to see a healthcare provider if these symptoms arise to confirm whether or not a yeast infection is the cause.

Three out of four people with vaginas will have a yeast infection at some point in their lives. Some people have recurring yeast infections for different reasons, including uncontrolled diabetes, immune suppression, hormonal changes and antibiotic use.

Yeast infections are typically treated with either an oral pill or a cream that has an antifungal in it.  These antifungal treatments have names that end in -azole, like Fluconazole or Miconazole.

How can yeast infections be prevented?

Preventing yeast infections can be challenging but here are a few things that you can try to help keep them at bay:

1) Wear underwear made with “breathable” fabric like cotton, and if possible, avoid wearing any underwear at all at night.

2) Avoid "feminine hygiene" products like douches, intimate washes, wipes, or sprays which can actually disrupt the balance of the vaginal flora, and cause more issues than you had in the first place! Scented products in general are not the vagina’s friend. Plain water is best for washing the vulva, but if you feel you need to use something else on occasion, stick to unscented, dye-free, sensitive skin soap. Use it outside of the vagina only, never inside. The vagina cleans itself! Avoiding scented laundry detergent for washing underwear can also help avoid irritation and imbalance.

3) Limit the use of antibiotics which can get rid of good bacteria that keep the vaginal pH in balance. Take antibiotics only when necessary and when prescribed for a specific condition.

4) Take a probiotic that supports vaginal health and immune function!*  

Our Muna probiotic was made specifically for this purpose! Why? Because life is complicated, so your health should be simple!

Probiotics can be especially helpful for people who take estrogen-based contraception or need to use antibiotics for long periods of time and are prone to getting yeast infections.  It may be worth taking a probiotic (like Muna) at the same time to keep your vaginal flora in check.  The extra Vitamin D is also always a plus!

It can also be helpful to see your healthcare provider if you have recurrent yeast infections due to other medical reasons, like uncontrolled diabetes or a suppressed immune system, to discuss how best to manage them.

Remember, sometimes yeast infections happen, and that's okay. No shame and no judgment needed.  Life is complicated enough! Treat them when you have them and try these prevention strategies to help simplify your life.  

*Some people, like those who are immunocompromised, are advised to avoid probiotics. If you have questions about whether or not you should take probiotic supplements, talk to your healthcare provider.  

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