Do You Really Have a Vaginal Yeast Infection?
A surprising number of women who buy over the counter medication for yeast infections don’t really have a yeast infection. They do have symptoms commonly caused by the yeast Candida albicans, but the symptoms are caused by something other than yeast.
The most common symptoms of a vaginal yeast infection (yeast vaginitis) are:
• Itching and burning in the vagina and vulva.
• Soreness, swelling and pain around the vulva.
• Pain during intercourse or urination.
• Vaginal discharge. This discharge is not always present, but if there is a discharge it will be odorless or smell like baker’s yeast, and usually has a whitish, thick appearance.
Unfortunately, these are also the common symptoms of other conditions, which can be caused by dermatitis, seborrhea, eczema, and by allergic reactions to chemicals found in soap, colored toilet paper, vaginal sprays, laundry detergent, and colored and scented bubble bath products.
In addition, very similar symptoms can be caused by bacteria, pubic lice, and scabies, plus the common sexually transmitted diseases caused by gonorrhea and Chlamydia.
And finally, similar symptoms may be caused by the common parasite called Trichomonas vaginalis.
While a yeast infection is not usually “shared” between sexual partners (although it can be, in some cases), some of these other conditions are transmitted sexually, and can cause serious damage to a woman’s reproductive organs. Often, the male partner will not have any symptoms at all, but must be treated for the infection in order to protect his health and to prevent the further spread of the disease.
The most common cause of a vaginal discharge accompanied by itching and an unpleasant odor is a bacterial infection called bacterial vaginosis.
This is not a sexually transmitted disease, even though it is most common among sexually active women. Bacterial vaginosis needs to be treated by antibiotics to prevent the bacteria from going into the uterus or fallopian tubes. This is particularly important if you’re pregnant.
Since a douche can push the bacterial infections up into the uterus, you should never use a douche if you have a bacterial infection.
Yeast infections are very common during pregnancy, but a bacterial infection that looks like a yeast infection is actually more serious. An untreated bacterial infection can cause premature birth, intraamniotic infection, (infection of the amniotic fluid, membranes, placenta, and/or uterus), and postpartum infections of the uterus that send you back to the hospital after giving birth.
What that means, of course, is that you should never attempt to self-diagnose and treat a yeast infection when you’re pregnant.
If you think you have a yeast infection, it’s wise to get a doctor to diagnose your symptoms even if you think its “obvious.” Natural yeast infection remedies and anti fungal medications meant for a vaginal yeast infection will not cure these other illnesses, even though the symptoms may go away.
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