Frequent yeast infections can mean more than irritation and inconvenience. Frequent yeast infections may be caused by serious conditions.
What Is a Yeast Infection?
Vaginal yeast infections in women are caused by an overgrowth of the yeast fungus known as Candida albicans. While yeast is always present in the vagina, an overgrowth of this yeast results in an infection.
Yeast infections can be caused by many factors, including taking medications such as antibiotics or oral contraceptives, hormonal changes, wearing tight clothing, or even eating lots of sugar.
The symptoms of a vaginal yeast infection include irritation, itching and burning of the vaginal area, vaginal discharge and pain during intercourse or when urinating.
Most women will experience a yeast infection at some point during their lives. However, frequent yeast infections can signal other conditions or problems that need treatment.
Frequent yeast infections can be caused by introducing chemicals or objects into the vagina that encourage the growth of fungus. This includes frequent douching, daily use of products such as feminine deodorant sprays and bath products that are in extended contact with the vagina (bubble baths, bath salts), and extended use of pads and tampons. To avoid frequent yeast infections caused by these factors, avoid the use of douches, sprays and bubble baths, and when using pads and tampons, change them frequently.
While avoiding the factors that cause vaginal yeast infections will often prevent them for most women, frequent yeast infections that cannot be prevented are often the result of medical conditions.
Medical conditions that suppress the immune system can cause frequent yeast infections. Among these conditions are:
Pregnancy GO Diabetes mellitus GO HIV/AIDS Cancers being treated with immuno-suppressive drugs.
If you have frequent vaginal yeast infections, talk to your doctor about any other medical conditions that you may have that could be the cause.
Recurrent Vulvovaginal Candidiasis (RVVC)
If you are experiencing frequent yeast infections, see your doctor or health care professional. Your frequent yeast infections may be recurrent vulvovaginal candidiasis. Although RVVC is most often a problem for women with diseases that suppress the immune system, RVVC can also occur in otherwise healthy women.
RVVC is often treated with an antifungal medication that is used for a duration of up to six months.
Many women who experience symptoms associated with yeast infections treat themselves using over-the-counter medications. However, if you are experiencing the symptoms of yeast infections frequently, you may be exacerbating the problem by using these products, or you may not have a yeast infection, but rather another, potentially dangerous vaginal infection.
See your doctor or health care provider if you are frequently experiencing the symptoms of yeast infections in order to rule out other conditions.