A yeast infection is one of the most common causes of female reproductive organ itchiness. Besides bringing about lots of discomforts, it may also cause one embarrassment, especially when in public. A timely visit to the doctor is the key to alleviating symptoms of yeast infection and finally curing it.
Since more often than not such infections are mistaken for sexually transmitted diseases, most women shy away from visiting a doctor for tests.
There are other infections of the reproductive organ whose signs and symptoms are similar to those of other sexually transmitted infections. Therefore, you are advised to visit your doctor as soon as you can for earlier diagnosis and treatment.
What is a yeast infection?
Yeast infection refers to the excessive growth of a fungus called candida. This fungus is typically found in small amount in the female repductive organ. During a change in the pH, it overgrows leading to an imbalance hence an infection.
- You are most likely to experience a yeast infection before or after your menstruation.
- There are several types of candida fungus; the most common causative of yeast infection is called Candida albicans.
A yeast infection is not an STI but is contagious; meaning it can be transmitted from one person to another through sex. Additionally, sex may lead to one person’s genital fluids reacting with another person’s leading to yeast growth.
A yeast infection in the mouth is referred to as thrush. In most cases, oral sex is the culprit for this kind of mouth infection. However, with small children, a yeast infection could be resulting from general reduced body immunity.
Yeast infection may take up to 2 weeks before you can notice any symptoms. However, when it occurs, you may notice one or more of the following:
- Burning sensation around the area
- Burning sensation during urination.
- A white-cloudy discharge that is odorless
What causes yeast infection after period?
There are several causes of yeast infection after period as discussed below:
Pregnancy comes with all sort of hormonal imbalances. Estrogen increases rapidly after implantation, in order to sustain pregnancy. Estrogen increase lead to reduced body immunity due to increased sugar in the blood resulting to infections.
During a stress episode, the body produces a hormone called cortisol. Research has shown that high levels of cortisol results to reduced immunity. A suppressed immunity will give room to growth of candida hence a yeast infection
3. High Estrogen levels
Estrogen is one of the essential hormones of the reproductive system. It brings about features that define you as a woman.
- Progesterone together with estrogen control the reproductive cycle.
This hormone reduces in levels toward your period and the uterine wall erodes as a result of failed implantation. Estrogen levels begin to rise immediately after your period in preparation for ovulation.
- Research shows that estrogen is responsible for glycogen breakdown in the body. Once glycogen is broken down, it becomes simple sugar on which candida thrives on.
Candida multiplies as long as estrogen levels are sustaining. This is the reason behind your recurrent yeast infection after period.
4. Failure to change your tampon as frequently as needed
A tampon holds moist and warm. For this reason, failure to change your pads and tampons frequently will likely to give room for growth of such bacteria. Additionally, if you keep a tampon for many hours, you are likely to get a toxic surprise, as a result, increased germs in the body.
- It is recommended that you change your pad or tampon often to avoid giving room for bacteria flourish.
5. Frequent use of antibiotics
Anti-bacterials are known to kill bacteria. Frequent intake of antibiotics disrupts the balance of yeast cells and good bacteria. Therefore the excessive use of antibiotics is likely to kill good bacteria resulting into increase of harmful ones.
You are advised not to take unprescribed or over the counter antibiotics. Always visit your doctor whenever an infection occurs.
6. Increased body sugars
High blood sugar leads to reduced body immunity. Studies show that people with diabetes are more likely to acquire yeast infection than those without. It is important to control your blood sugars by eating a proper diet comprising of more fruits and vegetables.
Avoid food rich in refined sugar and starch. Also, talk to your doctor about how to control your blood sugars if you happen to be diabetic.
7. Scented products
Studies claim that scented or perfumed hygiene products such as tampons and sprays increase one risk of suffering from yeast infection. The reason is that most of these chemicals are rich in sugar on which fungus thrives. Again, the membrane absorbs these chemicals faster before it is broken down for easier excretion.
More studies have come along to claim that the chemicals contained in the feminine hygiene products are rich in hormonal disrupting ions. It is therefore essential that you do not use this chemical at all.
What is the relationship between anemia and yeast infection?
Anemia is a condition characterized by lack of iron in the body which leads to reduced blood cells especially the erythrocytes (red cells)
- Iron is an important component of blood since it carries oxygen to different body parts.
- Research has shown that yeast infection or repeated candida infection is high in women with low hemoglobin levels.
When the body lacks enough iron and folate, it fails to create a powerful immunity against the invasion of micro-organisms. It is therefore okay to conclude that weakened body immunity is likely to lead to disruption of bacteria balance in the body.
Recurring yeast infection after period
Is your yeast infection never going away? The most common cause of recurring yeast infection is re-infection from sexual partner. For such a case it is important to talk to your sexual partner about going for candida albicans testing.
Another reason why you could be having a yeast infection now and then could be that your body has low immunity. When the body lacks the power to fight off infections, you are likely to be susceptible to recurrent yeast infection.
- Your healthcare provider might suggest a monthly pill, which you can take after the period to avoid repeated infections.
Additionally, a repeated infection should prompt you to go for blood sugar levels testing. Diabetes is a condition in which the sugar levels in the body re abnormally elevated resulting in increased infections. Candida albicans like any other yeast feeds on sugar to thrive.
Can a yeast infection cause infertility?
Can yeast infections affect your ability to get pregnant? A yeast infection occurring once or twice in a year is unlikely to cause infertility. However recurrent yeast infection may cause unbalanced flora which will likely to make it difficult for the sperm to get to the fallopian tubes.
Even though the sperm is never killed by candida, the environment present will make it impossible for the sperm to reach the cervix. Additionally, a yeast infection reduces mucus ability to fight micro-organisms which could lead to other ailments that could cost you’re your fertility.
The management of yeast infection depends on the severity of the infection. For this reason, over the counter, anti-fungal drugs are highly prohibited. You should make a point of visiting your doctor for proper diagnosis and medications.
Proper diagnosis of yeast infection entails the following:
1. History taking
Your doctor is likely to ask you a couple of questions that you might consider personal. However such questions such as some sexual partners will help your doctor diagnose or rule out a possibility of an STI.
Additionally, your doctor might ask about your symptoms, it is important to be as honest as possible to make it easier to proper diagnosis to be arrived at.
2. Complete pelvic examination
Your doctor examines your organ using an n instrument called a speculum. A speculum is inserted into the v, to allow your doctor have a clear view of the external urinary tract.
3. Collection of samples
Your doctor might then collect samples of your discharge using a cotton swab. These samples together with your urine will undergo microscopy examination in the laboratory for fungal diagnosis
There are a variety of anti-fungal treatments. The most common include suppositories, creams, and tablets. It is important that you finish your medications as prescribed by your doctor before returning for a checkup
During treatment, you are advised to
- Drink a lot of water to enable your body create high immunity and also expel toxins from the urinary tract
- Avoid sex to allow for treatment to take its course in alleviating the pain, sores, and itchiness
- Bring your partner for treatment to avoid future reinfection.
- Avoid use or sharing of sex toys. They help propel the infection further to the cervix
- Avoid touching your genital with dirty hands. This could cause the spread of germs hence more infection to other areas such as skin and mouth.
Treatment for severe candida infection includes:
- Long-term use of fluconazole. It is usually prescribed for about six weeks after then which you are expected back to your doctor for retesting.
- Two weeks cream course, or any treatment that your doctor may deem necessary
There are some natural treatments for yeast infection that work quite well to cure such infection for good. Here are the most common active home remedies to help you get rid of yeast infections:
Probiotics are substances that contain the good bacteria lactobacillus which is usually found in the gut and the reproductive organ. Yogurt is an example of probiotic that is readily available. Lactobacillus contained in unsweetened yogurt helps reduce the number of living candida albicans in both the reproductive organ and the gut. Here is how to use yogurt:
- Put half a cup of unsweetened yogurt in a bowl.
- Dip a tampon or a clean piece of cotton wool ball into the yogurt bowl
- Let soak for 3-4 minutes
- In a squatting position, insert the tampon
- Let the tampon or the cotton ball stay for about half an hour and remove
- Wash off with cold water
- Repeat this exercise at least twice in a day for a week for better results
Alternatively, you can consume 3-4 glasses of unsweetened yogurt daily until symptoms subside
3. Tea tree oil
Tea tree oil is a naturally occurring anti-inflammatory as well as an anti-fungal. It can cure yeast infections and reduce the edema or redness accompanied by it. Here is how to get rid of yeast infection after period using tea tree oil:
- Dip a tampon into a bowl of pure tea tree oil
- Insert the tampon at night
- Remove the tampon in the morning and wash off with cold water
Tee tree oils help soothe the irritation from continuous itchiness
4. Boric acid
Boric acid is full of antiseptic properties that are helpful in curing yeast infection for good. This remedy is an excellent choice for recurrent infections. Research shows that boric acid is used for treating yeast infections caused by other types of bacteria apart from candida.
It is, however, important to note that this remedy used in excessive amount could lead to kidney and liver damage. For this reason, you are not advised to use this natural treatment on broken skin or take it orally. Women who are expectant should not use boric acid in any occurring form. Use boric acid as follows to treat candida:
- Mix equal parts of boric acid and water in a clean bowl
- Using a clean cotton towel apply this remedy
- Repeat this exercise at least two times in a day for better results.
How to prevent it
Here are the tips to help you prevent the yeast infection after your period:
- Avoid using harsh chemical soaps to clean your genital area. Clean water with or without a mild soap is enough to clean off any bacteria in the genitalia.
- Do not wear tight underwear. Tight innerwear is likely to increase body sweat which could be trapped in the genitalia to provide a suitable bacterial breeding environment.
- Do not use a tampon if you suspect of a yeast infection before your period. A tampon simply propels the bacteria upwards to the cervix and other reproductive organs.
- Avoid douching. Douching depletes the good bacteria leading to increased susceptibility of micro-organism invasion.
- Wipe from front to the back, after using the toilet. The reason for this is to avoid micro-organism transfer from the anal area to the urinary tract
- Always sundry your under garments to keep the moisture off. Wet undergarments create a good breeding environment for bacteria breeding.
- Avoid alcoholic beverages that contain high amount of sugar
- Add a whole multi-vitamin to your diet
If not prevented or treated on time, yeast infection could lead to
- infertility issues
- Transmission to unborn baby-oral thrush
- Recurrent infections
- General reduced body immunity
When should I see a doctor?
Here are instances that should prompt you to visit your doctor as soon as possible:
- Visit your doctor if you are bleeding and pregnancy test is negative
- Foul-smelling discharge
- A recurrent infection even when you have completed your medications
- Severe pain in the pupenda
- Don’t assume that an itch down there is a yeast infection (May 2016) :https://health.clevelandclinic.org/2016/01/dont-assume-itch-yeast-infection/
- Anti-fungal resistance (January 2015): https://www.cdc.gov/fungal/antifungal-resistance.html