Have you noticed thick white odorless discharge from your vagina or for the gents, red sores or silver patches on your penis? chances are you may have a yeast infection,
other names for this infection are “vaginal candidiasis,” “vulvovaginal candidiasis,” or “candidal vaginitis” it can be called penile thrush when it affects men’s penis.
Don’t panic though, they’re not as bad as you fear.
Yeast Infections are not so uncommon, especially in a society with a decent population of sexually active people.
A study showed that over 70% of women in Western Europe and North America will get a yeast infection at one point in their lives.
Male yeast infections are an exception for men and unlikely to occur in normal healthy men.
This week on The Healthy Mail we’ll be getting into the nitty-gritty of yeast Infections dispelling the rumors and upholding proven facts.
What Causes Yeast infections
Yeast Infections are caused by the overgrowth of a type of fungi known as yeasts, represented in this family of fungi are the Baker’s yeast and the Brewer’s yeast.
However, we are interested in a different type of yeast, these yeasts belong to the genus Candida.
Most common yeast Infections are caused by a species ofyeast called Candida albicans although its cousin Candida vaginitis is often a culprit especially in penile yeast infections.
Candida species are a part of the skin and outer vaginal normal flora, this means that there’s probably always some Candida in some parts of your body no matter how healthy you might think you are.
In normal conditions, the population of Candida in the skin and nether regions is rigidly maintained below a threshold value by hormonal influence and influence of Bacteria that are also part of the normal flora.
Changes in these conditions can result in the proliferation of Candida, which causes yeast infections.
We previously said that changes in bacterial and hormonal levels can predispose individuals especially women to yeast infections, the question is what leads to those changes and what role do they play in yeast infections or their absence thereof.
Factors that Predispose you to Yeast Infections
These below, are factors which increase your chances of getting a yeast infection
we mentioned that Bacteria maintain the microbial equilibrium in the Vagina, this equilibrium can be upset by the decimation of bacterial populations in the vagina by antibiotics. This is especially a problem when the antibiotics are abused.
A reduction in the population of bacteria, encourage Candida species to proliferate and cause disease conditions interpreted as yeast infections.
Use of hormonal contraceptives
Common contraceptive pills (commonly known as ‘the pill’) used by a lot of women work by influencing hormonal levels in the female body which in turn influences the chances of conception.
However, these hormonal changes affect the vaginal environment and can encourage the proliferation of yeast infections.
- Use of douches, detergents and vaginal soapsDetergents, douches, and soaps if anything, change the chemical environment of any surface they are used on ( that’s how they are able to get stuff clean).This change in the environment is never good news for your Vagina, considering that organisms that exist there and by extension give balance to the vagina are very sensitive to such sudden changes and may die off. You know what happens when there are no organisms to check the growth of Candida, Candida grows like a boss, proliferating and invading the vagina without much ado.
Yes, pregnancy. Pregnancy is a period when women teem with hormones. Higher levels of hormones like estrogen coupled with erratic changes in the level of other hormones make pregnant women very prone to yeast infection.
Other disease conditions:
The presence of other diseases in the body tends to reduce immunity and increase the risk of coming down with yeast infections.
Sex with a partner who has a yeast infection
The nature of the uncircumcised penis with its turns and folds make it a conducive environment for the proliferation of yeast.
These little fungi hide underneath the covering of the penis when the penis comes in contact with a source of infection.
In there, their presence isn’t really noticed and they can thus evade being washed off during showers.
Wearing wet bathing suits for a long time:
Yeasts thrive in a warm moist environment, the exact kind of environment created by a bathing suit worn for a long time especially those worn by women.
You should note that the risk of contracting a yeast infection this way is very low as only women prone to recurrent yeast infections stand real chances of getting yeast infections this way.
Symptoms of yeast infections
- Burning pain in the vulva
- Thick odorless discharge from the vagina
- Redness in the penis or vulva
- Burning pain during urination in females
- Feeling vaginal pain during sex
- Whitish patches along the penile shaft
- Vaginal itching or soreness
Some other diseases have symptoms that can be confused with a yeast infection, for example, Bacterial vaginosis causes vaginal discharges which are similar to yeast caused discharges the only difference being that the bacterial-induced discharges have a fishy odor whereas the discharge induced by yeast is mostly odorless.
It is important that they not be confused with mixing up the two diseases often leads to drug misuse.
How to treat yeast infections
Normally, topical antifungal creams like Miconazole, Imidazole, and Clotrimazole are sufficient to tackle the yeast infection, however, hardy forms of the infection can be treated using over the counter oral antifungal drugs like Fluconazole.
Many other methods and substances are touted in different circles online as being able to treat yeast infections, we’ll ascertain the veracity of each of these claims here;
Eating probiotic yogurts:
Given that probiotics repopulate the normal flora in parts of the body, an assumption could be made that eating them can repopulate the Vagina with Bacteria which can compete with yeasts.
Applying probiotic yogurts topically on the Vagina:
This for the record is a big NO. Not because it is disgusting but because it is capable of drastically altering the chemical and microbial equilibria of the vagina.
Seriously No. It isn’t just a waste of time and resources, it is a dangerous waste of time.
Douching doesn’t just destroy the Biochemical/Microbial balance of the vagina, it can physically damage parts of the vaginal wall.
Inserting cloves of garlic into the vagina:
There isn’t really any medical research available to determine the effectiveness. However, word on the streets coupled with anecdotal evidence seems to suggest that it works for some people.
Inserting Boric acid suppositories into the vagina
Numerous studies suggest the effectiveness of Boric acid capsules in the treatment of yeast infections,
some even suggest the possibility of replacing Azole therapy (i.e Fluconazole, Imidazole etc) wholly with Boric acid capsules.
It should be noted however that Boric acid is an acid and therefore has the tendency to cause a burning sensation when inserted in a sensitive body part.
Having mentioned methods of treating yeast infections, it is worthwhile to know how to avoid a yeast infection in the first place.
- Using a condom when having sex with multiple sex partners.
- Practicing good hygiene and keeping your genitals clean and dry.
- Maintaining a healthy diet.
- Keeping your sugar levels under control if you’re diabetic.
- Clean under the foreskin during bath and after sex.
- Wearing light cotton underwear.
It should be noted that some women are more prone to recurrent yeast infections and it is advised that you see your GP if you get more than four yeast infections in a year.
Also, if the vaginal or penile conditions don’t improve within seven days of using an Azole it is recommended that you see a Doctor pronto.