Vaginal yeast infection may occur in approximately 75% of females at least once in their life time, and in approximately 50% of the females, the infection may recur over the years. In case you get vaginal yeast infection quite often (around four or more in one year), you are most probably suffering from a condition known as chronic or recurring yeast infections.
Causes of Recurring Yeast Infections
1. Your DNA May Be the Culprit
Some females are more susceptible to getting Candida albicans infections (the fungus that is most responsible for causing vaginal yeast infections) due to presence of two mutations. Normally an immune reaction is launched against excess Candida growth; however, in females with these genetic defects the immune system can’t make the key proteins required to produce an immune reaction.
2. Your Partner May Re-infect You
Yeast infection in males is referred to as balanitis which is characterized by redness, soreness and itching of the head of the penis. Balanitis is more common in males who are uncircumcised. In approximately 12-15% of males, an itchy rash appears on their penis after having sexual intercourse with females suffering from yeast infection. Even after the yeast infection in a female is treated, she can be re-infected by her partner.
3. You May Be Pregnant
According to the American Pregnancy Association, more sugar is present in the vagina of pregnant females due to hormonal changes, which is a source of nourishment for Candida albicans. Moreover, hormonal changes can also kill more of the good bacteria which keep a check on Candida, making pregnant females more prone to get recurring yeast infections.
4. Your Condition May Be Made Worse by Using Panty Liners
If you are prone to develop yeast infections, your panty liners would make it worse, because panty liners may trap moisture, and limit air flow, thereby creating a moist environment in which the yeast loves to grow.
5. Your Immune System May Be Weak
Females who are on immunosuppressant (medicines that suppress the immune system) either to treat autoimmune ailments such as lupus or if they have received an organ transplant are more prone to develop yeast infections. Steroids can also suppress immunity by counteracting inflammation which is the first step in fighting any infection by the body. Diseases that suppress the immune system such as leukemia and HIV can also increase the risk of yeast infections.
6. You May Be Entering Menopause
During the years before menopause occurs, hormonal levels change radically. This may create an imbalance in your vagina bacteria, and thereby boost the growth of Candida. However, if you are past menopause, your body is no longer producing enough estrogen to favor the growth of Candida, your irritation and itchy feelings may be caused by other reasons.
Treatments of Recurring Yeast Infections
Treatment of a yeast infection requires antifungal medicines referred to as azoles. You can get these medicines either over-the-counter or as prescription medicines and they are available in various forms such as suppositories, vaginal creams and medicated tampons. Some of these medicines are
- Monistat (miconazole)
- Vagistat (tioconazole)
- Gyne-lotrimin (clotrimazole)
- Terazol (terconazole)
- Gynazole (butoconazole)
Depending on the medicine used, the therapy may last from one to seven days. These medicines are effective in curing recurring yeast infections caused due to Candida albicans.
However, some vaginal infections may be caused by other species of Candida such as Candida glabrata. These can be treated by using Mycostatin (nystatin) tablet or vaginal cream or a vaginal gel having the antifungals flucytosine and amphotericin B as ingredients.
Preventions of Recurring Yeast Infections
1. Change Your Underwear
Replace your polyester underwear with cotton underwear. This is because underwear that is made of synthetic material such as polyester traps moisture and keeps the vaginal area moist. In other words, they are not breathable. Underwear made of natural fabric such as cotton is breathable.
2. Don’t Use Scented Products
Scented products including tampons, pads, vaginal sprays and bubble baths can either upset the pH balance of your vagina or lead to vaginal irritation. Both of these conditions are associated with an increased risk of yeast infections. Hence, avoid such products altogether.
3. Don’t Use Products Containing Nonoxynol-9
A spermicide, Nonoxynol-9, has been linked to increased risk of yeast infections in some studies. This compound is often present in latex condoms, hence, it is recommended to read the labels.
4. Don’t Douche and Skip Hot Tubs and Baths
The bacterial balance in the vagina can be disturbed by douching, increasing the risk of yeast infection. Hence, skip douching. Similarly, fungus growth in the vaginal area can be increased by using hot tubs and taking hot baths. It is best to use warm showers instead of hot tubs or hot baths.
5. Wipe from Front to Back While Cleaning
It’s best to clean the vaginal area from front to back as by doing it the other way may introduce more bacteria and fungus into the vaginal area, thereby increasing the risk of a yeast infection.
6. Wear Loose Fitting Clothes and Avoid Wearing Damp Clothes
Moisture encourages the growth of fungal infection. Hence it is recommended to avoid wearing damp clothes. It is best to change sweaty clothes or bathing suits as early as possible. Similarly, wearing tight fitting clothes increases sweating and keeps your body moist. Therefore, it is best to wear loose fitting clothes so as to help decrease moisture.