Fighting yeast infection
Camelia is a 22-year-old university student who lives in Kingston and says she has visited her clinic at least three, maybe four, times this year to treat an irritating recurrence of yeast fungal vaginal infection.
Camelia says the infection always occurs before or after her monthly periods and occur at about three monthly intervals. The off-white, curdy discharge itches terribly even before she sees a discharge, both inside and outside. Camelia is tired of using anti-yeast treatments and asks Check Up what she can possibly do to get rid of her problem permanently.
The fungal organism to which Camelia refers is Candida albicans. This is a type of yeast fungus that really likes warm moist places to live and so the vagina is just ideal for it to grow and flourish. It normally lives in this area anyway but sometimes conditions occur which enable it to flourish more. Chronic recurring yeast infections are characterised by four or more occurrences per year. Some reasons for this chronicity are:
• Using steroidal medications of any kind, especially those which alter the normal female hormonal balance. This would include use of birth control pills and oestrogen treatments. The medication doesn't cause the infection to occur but will allow any such infection present to become exacerbated.
• Frequent antibiotic use will kill off useful vaginal bacteria which help control Candida and allow overgrowth of Candida albicans.
• Obesity will increase the heat and moisture experienced in the vagina and promote the growth of the fungus.
• Uncontrolled diabetes mellitus sugars the blood and the lining of the vagina and makes it very attractive to the yeast organism.
• Wearing tight-fitting clothing, especially jeans and leggings, which is very popular with younger ladies, also keeps the vaginal area warm and moist.
• Wearing panty shields all month in our hot weather increases moisture and heat in the vagina (and just add tight jeans to that).
• Wiping after passing stool without taking care to wipe from behind, and then from front to back, can increase frequency of yeast infections as the vagina and anus are situated quite near and yeast frequently live in the anal region.
• Although Candida yeast is not truly a sexually transmitted infection, it can sometimes result from a sexual partner.
• It can also occur after allergic reactions to condoms.
Yeast loves a warm, moist, wet environment, so prevention of the enabling heat and moisture will help prevent yeast vaginal infections. I recommend that you do the following:
• Stop wearing synthetic fabric underwear.
• Go bare at home underneath clothing when it is hot.
• Instead of tight jeans, wear more breathable materials.
Also remember to:
• Take antibiotics only when prescribed and when really necessary, and remember to request antifungal cover treatment at the same time.
• Wipe from front to back after using the toilet.
• Abstain from sex until the yeast is fully gone.
• Avoid douching.
Ask the doctor to rule out other possible causes of the vaginal infection by taking a swab and sending it off to be tested at the lab.
Treatment of chronic recurring yeast infections will include the following regimens:
• Once-monthly 150mg dose of orally taken fluconazole.
• Once-monthly 200mg or 400mg orally taken Itraconazole.
These treatments have been found to decrease recurrence rate by 50 per cent.
Another recommended treatment is the use of vaginal medications for seven to 14 days and/or a single dose of oral fluconazole, with a second dose repeated after three days and a third dose seven days later as initial treatment. This is then followed by six months of oral or vaginal maintenance treatment. These are prescription medications and will require a doctor's authorisation.
Camelia, Check Up hopes this is helpful.
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