Check Up : That irritating yeast infection
Camelia is a 22-year-old university student who lives in Kingston. She says that 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 that the infection always occurs before or after her monthly periods and at approximately three-month 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 could do to could 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 that enable it to really flourish. Chronic yeast infections are characterised by four or more occurrences per year.
Some reasons for this chroni-city are:
- Using steroidal medications of any kind, especially those that alter the normal female hor-monal 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 are very popular with younger women, also keeps the vaginal area warm and moist.
- Wearing panty shields all month in our hot weather increases moisture and heat in the vagina.
- 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 to each other and yeast frequently lives 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 unduly promoting heat and moisture will help prevent yeast vaginal infections. So, avoid the following:
- synthetic fabric underwear
- tight jeans
Also remember to:
- Take antibiotics only when prescribed and when really necessary, and remember to request antifungal cover treatment at the same time.
- 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 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 initial 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.
This is then followed by six months of oral or vaginal maintenance treatment. These are prescription medications and will require a doctor's authorisation.