A healthy vagina has many bacteria and a small number of yeast cells. The most common organism that causes yeast infections is known as Candida albicans. This type of yeast can be present in normal, healthy women in the vaginal canal. Most commonly, it is present without causing any symptoms at all. It is only when an overgrowth of this organism is present that symptoms of an yeast infection may manifest. This happens when the balance of protective bacteria in the vagina is disturbed, either due to illness, hormonal changes, or taking certain medications, particularly antibiotics or immune-suppressing drugs. Conditions that affect the function of the immune system, including diabetes, can increase a woman’s risk of getting a yeast infection. Sometimes, no cause for the overgrowth of yeast is discovered. Therefore, in this article we discuss vaginal yeast infections and ways to maintain a healthy vagina.
Yeast is a fungus that normally lives in the vagina in small numbers. A vaginal yeast infection means that too many yeast cells or yeast like fungus Candida albicans and closely related species are growing in the vagina . Candida Albican is a common inhabitant of the mouth, vagina, and intestinal tract; Candida ordinarily causes no ill effects, except among infants and in persons with debilitating illness. Candidiasis/ moniliasis (infection with candida albicans) of the mucous membranes of the vagina is called fungal vaginitis. In other instances, Vaginitis occurs when the vaginal ecosystem has been changed by certain medications such as antibiotics, hormones, contraceptive preparations (oral and topical), douches, vaginal medication, sexual intercourse, sexually transmitted diseases, stress, and change in sexual partners.
Nevertheless, a majority of adult women have had at least one genital yeast infection in their lifetime. The condition is not considered a sexually transmitted disease, but some men will develop symptoms such as itching and penile rash following sexual contact with an infected partner.
In the mouth, Candidiasis is termed as oral thrush and is a common fungus infection. It is usually localized and mild but may spread into a generalized cutaneous eruption. This thrush most often occurs in bottle-fed babies.
Candidiasis of the skin is most likely to occur in the folds, especially in moist areas such as the armpits, between the buttocks, and in the navel. The folds between the fingers and around the nails are often affected in persons whose hands are frequently wet. Perlèche is a Candida infection occurring at the corners of the mouth.
Occasionally the fungus invades the respiratory system, producing a bronchopulmonary (fungal respiratory) infection that simulates miliary tuberculosis. The infection rarely becomes systemic, but when it does so it may damage the lining of the heart or the meninges.
These infections are very common. Although they can bother you a lot when afflicted, they are not usually serious. And treatment is simple. The most common bacteria, Lactobacillus acidophilus, help keep other organisms like the yeast under control. In other words, the vaginal is not sterile but has bacteria that help maintain its environment like the acidity (pH) level to be conducive as a defensive mechanism.
When something happens to change the balance of these organisms, yeast can grow too much and cause symptoms. Even though the symptoms produced by a vaginal yeast infection also referred to as vaginal candidiasis or yeast vaginitis, are similar among affected women, they are not at all specific. In fact, studies have shown that many women attempt to treat what they believe are yeast infections using over-the-counter medications when they actually have a different condition. So, if you are unsure about whether or not you have an yeast infection, or if you have never had one before, it’s important to see your doctor to be sure that you are treating the correct conditions before starting any treatment. As earlier highlighted, taking antibiotics sometimes causes this imbalance. The high estrogen levels caused by pregnancy (If you are pregnant, don’t use medicine for an yeast infection without talking to your doctor first) or hormone therapy can also cause it. So can certain health problems, like diabetes or HIV infection.
Some women experience symptoms during the week before the menstrual period. But no matter the circumstances at times, yeast infections will usually cause itching or soreness in the vagina and sometimes causes pain or burning when urinating or having sex. Some women also have a thick, clumpy, white discharge that has no odor and looks a little like cottage cheese.
It’s easy to guess wrong about a vaginal infection. See your doctor if you aren’t sure what you have or if this is the first time you have had these symptoms. Also see your doctor if you are pregnant. Your doctor may want to do a vaginal exam.
If one suspect yeast infection before and can recognize the symptoms, and aren’t pregnant, then some over the counter (OTC) drugs can work as optional therapy to treat them at home. Other therapies may include antifungal cream, or a suppository that is put into the vagina, or antifungal tablets that may have to be swallowed. If symptoms are mild, it is to wait and see if they clear up on their own.
If a cream or suppository is used to treat the infection, don’t depend on a condom or diaphragm for birth control. The oil in some medicines weakens latex or the material often used to make these devices.
Though yeast infection may cause a characteristically whitish, cheese like discharge, some vaginal discharge is quite common and normal for women of childbearing age. Normally, cervical glands produce a clear mucous secretion that drains downward, mixing with bacteria, discarded vaginal cells, and Bartholin’s gland secretions at the opening of the vagina. These substances may (depending on how much mucus there is) turn the mucus to a whitish color, and the discharge turning yellowish when exposed to air. There are times throughout the menstrual cycle that the cervical glands produce more mucus than others, depending on the amount of estrogen produced. This is normal. Sexual excitement and emotional stress have both been associated with a normal vaginal discharge. This discharge is a clear, mucus-like secretion.
But If the vaginal discharge is abnormal in color such as green, has a foul smell, changes consistency, or is significantly increased or decreased in amount, then there might be developing a form of vaginitis. Although the symptoms of these infections can be very similar, there are some differences to look for in the color and smell of the discharge.
Regarding the so-called sexual revolution, women have not yet realized that advertisers have created a demand for a product that, in the view of many doctors, is not needed. The product is genital deodorants for women. After treating a lot of women for bad side effects from using such deodorants, we can surely advise that in this gadget-conscious, product-oriented civilization, we must resist those instances where a demand is being artificially created for a product of questionable value. This is especially true where even the minimal advantage can be more than outweighed by significant complications.
It is especially dangerous to apply these deodorants to the delicate mucous membranes of the vagina. Many research reports have remarked that there is always a risk involved in spraying chemicals on the body, especially on such sensitive areas as the genitals. They recommend using just plain soap and water or non-complex products. However, the bone of contention is that we may seem to be old fashioned to advise cautious usage of such products when your favorite idols are using them but the fact is that if you fall victim to such products, natural hygiene maintenance is the necessary evil to keep you healthy. One fact that undisputedly remains clear is that yeast infections symptoms should be less common in this day and age when most women are meticulously clean in all hygiene language we may dream about.
Many women have infections that come back and one like this one discussed in this article is a common infection with numerous recurrences. In times when there are more than four yeast infections in a year, it is important to schedule a visit to a doctor. He or she may do some tests to see if the yeast infections are being caused by another health problem, such as diabetes.
However, the following good genital hygiene practice can help prevent the infection;
Keep your vaginal area clean. Use mild, unscented soap and water. Rinse well.
After using the toilet, wipe from front to back to avoid spreading yeast or bacteria from the anus to the vagina or urinary tract.
Wear underwear that helps keep the genital area dry and doesn’t hold in warmth and moisture. One good choice is cotton underwear.
Avoid tight-fitting clothing, such as panty hose, and tight-fitting jeans. These may increase body heat and moisture in the genital area. (Cotton underwear highly recommended to nylon ones)
Change out of a wet swimsuit right away. Wearing a wet swimsuit for many hours may keep the genital area warm and moist. Avoid emersion of the waist or genitalia in a communal bath tabs.
Change pads or tampons often.
Don’t douche or use deodorant tampons or feminine sprays, powders, or perfumes. These items can change the normal balance of organisms in the vagina. In addition, avoid scratches in the vagina (during insertion of a tampon or other objects)
In summary, it is evident that a healthy vagina has a symbiotic relationship with a lot of bacteria and a little bit of yeast or fungi. To secure the health rights of the genitalia, that cannot be enshrined anywhere, it is important to refrain from an ethical modification of genitalia odors. Probably the use of lipstick has done wonders to give flavour and taste to a kiss but the genitalia do not need any make-up to function. The world is met with a lot of maladies that science cannot fully explain, hence, we should struggle to meet civilization or modernity with a sober mind.
JONES H. MUNANG’ANDU (author)
Motivational speaker, health commentator &
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