Written by Katelyn Schwanke (last updated September 5, 2008)
Yeast infections, or Candida Albicans, can be somewhat scary for most women. Despite fear associated with yeast infections, there are very simple explanations and cures available. Yeast infections are extremely common. Seventy-five percent of women will have a yeast infection at least once in their lives. Yeast infections are simply a sign that there has been an increase in vaginal bacteria. There are a myriad of causes for this increase in bacteria, but most commonly women who are on antibiotics, pregnant, diabetic, or who are taking oral contraceptives are most at risk. Stress, poor diet, and tight fitting, "non-breathable" clothing may also encourage bacterial growth.
Prevention is the first step in protecting yourself against yeast infections. Beyond discussing risks with your doctor you should limit moisture and friction to prevent encouraging the growth of excess bacteria. Women who swim should be sure to change into dry clothing soon after workouts.
If you do develop a yeast infection, you will be able to identify it as such quite easily. The most common symptoms include cottage cheese like discharge, burning, itching or soreness in the vaginal area. Once you have properly identified a yeast infection you may choose from a variety of home-care options or physician care.
If you choose to try home care, you can find convenient over-the-counter topical medications at any grocery store or pharmacy. Popular over-the-counter brands include Monistat, Femstat, and Lotrimin. Although applying these topicals may seem like a messy or unpleasant business, they are preferred by doctors because they do not result in the side effects that can accompany oral medications. Diflucan, one oral medication, can result in headaches or nausea and cannot be taken during pregnancy.
If you are nervous about oral medications and over-the -ounter medications, boric acid can help reduce the risk of yeast infections. Boric acid can be found near contact lens aisles or in a pharmacy. Purchase plastic medicine capsules and fill them with the boric acid. If you currently have a yeast infection, insert the capsules twice daily into the vagina. Yeast infections will usually generally disappear within fifteen days if you take the appropriate measures to treat yourself with at home remedies like boric acid, over the counter suppositories or creams like Monistat.
For women who experience recurring yeast infections (only about five percent of women), seeing the doctor is the best option. If you choose to see a doctor you can expect him/her to take a history of your sexual activity, examine your vaginal area and take a sample of your discharge to be studied microscopically. Any procedure done by the physician should be painless.
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