Vaginal Yeast Infection Symptoms, Causes, & Treatment
In this video, we will discuss vaginal yeast infection with Dr. Vandna Khera Narula, Gynecologist at Cosmo Hospital, Mohali.
What is a vaginal yeast infection?
Vaginal yeast infection is a kind of fungal infection. Yeast is a very common term used to the fungus that affects the vaginal wall or the vulva health of certain individuals.
See, sometimes what happens is, when there is a lot of warmth and moisture or sweating or certain kind of conditions occur in the body, the fungus called candida starts overgrowing in the vulval vaginal area and causes certain symptoms. This is basically the yeast infection. It is a very common kind of presentation in our OPD practice.
Types of vaginal infections?
There are various types of vaginal infections. When the patient comes to us with the same types of symptoms or different kinds of symptoms and we kind of have to differentiate what is the organism and what kind of infection is she carrying.
- It could be bacterial. It is called Bacterial vaginosis. It is because of the growth of certain kinds of bacteria in the vulvar and vaginal areas.
- And secondly, by the overgrowth of fungus, the candida, which we’ve already, which we are going to talk of here, is the vaginal yeast infection.
- Then you have a Parasite Trichomonas Tracker, which also causes some kind of vaginal infection. This is also a Trichomonas kind of vaginitis.
- Then you also have certain other kinds of organisms like Gonorrhea, Chlamydia, which include sexually transmitted diseases that also cause vaginal infection.
- Rarely do we also have patients who have viral kind of vaginitis.
What are the symptoms of vaginal infections?
The most common symptom that the patient comes to us is pruritus, itching on the private parts. And that itching disturbs the patient a lot in the beginning. Then the patient also complains of a lot of discharge. And the discharge could be of any type. In the case of candidal infection, the vaginal yeast infection we are talking of is a typical curdy, thick white discharge, which the patient presents with. The patient notices this discharge on the panty or on the private parts. It could coat the outside of the genital area and even the vaginal walls.
When we check us by a speculum examination or a per vaginal examination, when we do our local examination of what we see, it is a typical kind of curdy, thick like curd. A thick white discharge is present. This is what we call a candidal infection, yeast infection. And then there is inflammation and redness of the private parts area, and it’s very, very sore. Patients find it painful to touch.
When she wears undergarments or clothes, it feels so painful. Then the sexual intercourse is also painful in vaginal yeast infection. These are the major symptoms. There could be problems with urinating. The patient can experience pain while urinating. Then you have to find out if the patient has a urinary tract infection or she has a vaginal yeast infection. And this differentiation is gone when the patient is examined.
In case a woman is pregnant, so this infection may affect the baby also?
When a patient is pregnant, there are many more chances of a patient getting a vaginal yeast infection or candida infection because of the hormonal changes that the mother is undergoing. And all the changes in the outside of a vagina and the vulval area.
When the patient presents herself with a fungal infection and comes to us we give certain local medication. Because we cannot give more oral medications when the patient is pregnant, we can give local medication creams or vaginal pessaries or tablets for the patient.
But once or twice it’s no harm but if the patient comes back again and again with candidal yeast infections then what happens is not good for her. What we say is not good for the baby. It is hurting the baby. When we say it like that, it’s not an okay term.
Any kind of vaginal infection or infection that occurs in the genital area during pregnancy or urinary tract infection. These kinds of infections are basically a risk factor for preterm labor. For any patient who comes to us again and again with vaginal infections, vulval infections, or urinary tract infections, the reason is that the cervical canal, the vaginal canal is above that is a cervical canal. And the cervical canal is basically the mouth of the uterus, and inside you have the developing baby, and around that is the amniotic membrane that protects the baby.
And if the ascent of infection, if it goes upwards then it might cause chorioamnionitis, and again and again if this light infection occurs or spreads, there is a chance of preterm labor. But no need to worry that only when affection is not treated or it is recurrent or if the infection is more.
What kind of lifestyle change or a change in habit change can you suggest for avoiding such kinds of infections?
To start, I would just say, What are the reasons why the candidal infection occurs?
Most commonly, when a patient comes to us with a vaginal infection, first of all, the risk factor is obesity. When a patient is obese, then there are more chances of getting a vaginal infection.
Secondly is diabetes. If the patient of any age is diabetic, then this patient has more chances of getting this candidal yeast infection overgrowth of the fungus occurs in the body.
Suppose the patient is taking antibiotics. There are some patients who keep on taking antibiotics for any kind of infection like cold, cough or UTI, or anything else. If the patient has taken multiple courses of antibiotics, then there are chances of getting a candidal infection. Because when you take antibiotics, what happens is, the normal flora gets disturbed. And whenever the normal flora of the body is disturbed, there is always an overgrowth of the other kind of flora. Like here, the candidal flora overgrows. And that causes the candidal infection.
- Tight clothing
Then there is wearing tight clothes, tight undergarments, wearing tight lower or jeans, during the summer or the monsoon season. Because already when it is hot and humid the body sweats and in the private parts also there is a lot of sweating. And when you are not wearing loose, cotton clothes, what happens is that there is a lot of sweating and that area becomes more prone to candidal yeast infection.
When the ladies come in the warm and humid monsoon climate, they sweat a lot and are still there wearing tight clothes, like gym clothing or western wear. What happens is that there is an overgrowth of the candida fungus, and then they present it as a candidal yeast infection. Then there is OCP’s. These are contraceptive pills. If the lady is taking these over contraceptive pills, there are a little bit more chances that she will catch the Candidal yeast infection. And it is also one of the reasons. And so, these are the lifestyle habits that constitute vaginal yeast infection.
Healthy food, vegetables, and fruits and being hydrated help?
Healthy food, as in you should not take a lot of sugar. When you take a lot of sugar or sugary food or sugary drinks what happens is that there is an increase in blood sugar levels even if it is transient. And then there is more of the chance of getting this fungal infection. And diabetes we already discussed. If the patient is non-diabetic or is borderline diabetic, then this is how diet affects infections. And if you are taking processed foods, what happens is that again the digestive system gets disturbed. And the digestive system or the gut and the urinary system, and the reproductive system in the females there linked.
Whenever the digestive system gets disturbed by eating imbalanced food, what happens is that there is an imbalance of flora, the gut flora. The gut Flora gets disturbed, what happens is there is an overgrowth of another kind of candidal. There is an overgrowth of this, the patient always comes with these symptoms. She might also come with oral thrush.
Along with this, she can have vaginal yeast infections around the perineal area and vaginal area. All; these areas are actually connected together. This overgrowth of fungus in the body and then she presents with these kinds of vaginal yeast infection.
Are there any natural remedies you could recommend?
The natural remedy that we talked about is this diet. If you are obese, then you should try to lose weight. And secondly, the diet as we have already talked about, we should not eat a lot of sugar, sugary foods, and sugary drinks or any other kind of processed foods, when you have a tendency of getting infections again and again.
- Lifestyle changes
Then the lifestyle modification like wearing tight as we talked about. These types of tight dresses, western dresses or synthetic dresses, or synthetic undergarments affect your body or affect your skin. Then you should avoid them when it’s summer or monsoon season, or the weather is such. You should avoid wearing tight clothes. You should wear loose cotton clothes and light clothes so that you do not get this action again.
Then if you have diabetes, you should try to control your sugar levels to a limit so that you don’t have any other complications. So these are different things one should take care of.
Thank you, Dr. Vandna Khera Narula, for sharing valuable information with me. I am hopeful that this will help many of us to remain away from such kinds of infections.