4 Reasons Why You Keep Getting A Yeast Infection

4 Reasons Why You Keep Getting A Yeast Infection

Almost every woman and quite a few men will suffer from a yeast infection at some point in their life. It is estimated that as many as three-quarters of all women will develop a vaginal yeast infection at least once in their lifetimes, and for some, much more often.

4 Reasons Why You Keep Getting A Yeast Infection
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Yeast infections are not considered to be a sexually transmitted disease as they occur spontaneously but it can then be spread by sexual contact from one partner to the other. It is not caused by poor hygiene standards but maintaining scrupulous ablutions once you are afflicted can help to contain its spread and severity. However, do not use harsh soaps or chemicals on the area: mild cleansers and plenty of warm water are all that should ever be used in the area.

The yeast species Candida albicans causes around 90% of vaginal yeast infections, and the condition has been known about since 400BCE when Hippocrates left a detailed description of it in his writings. A direct translation of the words 'Candida albicans' leaves us with 'white becoming white' and this is fairly accurate as regards the presentation of the condition. It tends to cause a white discharge in the afflicted area, which presents with whitening of the tongue and/or a whitish discharge and cottage-cheese-like formation in the labial and vulvar areas.

A healthy vulva (the external genitalia including the labia) and vagina (the 'tube' or canal connecting the uterus to the outside world) is usually populated with growths of bacteria – this is normal and healthy. However, sometimes the levels of each type of bacteria can be disrupted. When levels of a particular bacteria, lactobacillus, are low, this can allow an overgrowth of Candida albicans to occur. Candida albicans is normally present in the vagina and vulva in low quantities and does no harm.

It is only when the balance is disrupted, and Candida grows out of control that symptoms occur and a yeast infection can manifest.

What are some of the causes of this disruption to the bacterial balance?

Impaired immune system: Sometimes treatments for other diseases (or the diseases themselves) can weaken or impair the immune system making it unable to regulate the normal balance of vaginal flora. This means that Candida albicans can overgrow. 

These ailments include some cancers and AIDS along with other diseases, while treatments that can affect it include steroids, which are commonly used to reduce inflammations. In some cases, this can happen to such a degree that the fungal infection spreads to other parts of the body and even affect the eyes, brain, blood, kidneys, and heart. However, the liver, lungs and spleen can also be affected.

Usage of antibiotics: Antibiotics are designed to kill bacteria - this is literally what their name means. While antibiotics are excellent at killing off harmful bacteria that might be making us feel very ill, they are also very effective at killing off beneficial or 'good' bacteria too. Therefore, anyone who is on antibiotics might suffer some digestive upsets or get a touch of 'thrush' as the antibiotic clears out all bacteria, leaving the yeast free to multiply dramatically until natural levels re-assert themselves.

Uncontrolled diabetes: Researchers have found a causality between high blood sugars and yeast infections. This makes perfect sense as yeasts – as well known by bakers – thrive on sugars, growing rapidly when exposed to it. Diabetes results in the sugar levels in the blood being too high, which works on fungal yeast like petrol on a fire, causing it to rage out of control.

Increased estrogen levels: Hormonal birth control contains estrogen which can disrupt the body's natural balances and cause more sugars to form in the vagina. Sugar, as mentioned above, causes Candida to grow out of control. Hormone replacement therapy can have the same effect too, as it artificially raises estrogen levels, giving the same boost to the sugars being produced. 

Do not be tempted to think that switching to spermicidal jellies and similar creams or lotions instead of birth control pills will help: these too contain substances that can cause an overgrowth of Candida! Pregnancy can also be a factor: the onset of pregnancy thoroughly disrupts one's hormones, and thrush is sometimes the result of the increase in estrogen production.

How do you know if you have a vaginal yeast infection?

The symptoms are quite unmistakable, and most people will know that there is something wrong quite soon after the onset. They include:

• Redness and swelling of the area
 Pain and itching of the vulvar region
• Discharge – as mentioned above, white and with a cottage-cheese-like appearance
 There may be a change to the smell of the body
• Pain maybe experienced during urination, before and after sex (this is often accompanied by dryness), and occasionally a low ache may persist at all times

What to do about it?

If you suffer from a yeast infection do not be embarrassed about seeking help: it is a common problem and one that is relatively easy to treat. In fact, most medications can be bought over the counter, with no need for a prescription, and you will begin to feel better very soon after starting treatment. To aid your recovery, flush your system with plenty of water and try to reduce your sugar intake.

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