While many of your pregnancy discomforts can make you feel uncomfortable, few can make you as unceasingly uncomfortable as a yeast infection.
A Burning Problem
Yeast infections are incredibly common. So common, in fact, that it is estimated that half of all American women will develop at least one vaginal yeast infection by their 25th birthday. A yeast infection, also known as thrush, is caused by an overgrowth of the fungus Candida albicans in your vagina. Candida albicans is naturally found in your lower bowels, intestinal tract, vagina and skin. However, certain factors can cause this particular fungus to proliferate too much, causing the intolerable symptoms of thrush.
Factors that can increase the risk of vaginal yeast infections include:
- Being diabetic
- Using medications that contain steroids
- Using antibiotics for prolonged periods of time
- Occasionally, using the birth control pill
- Wearing tight pants or pantyhose frequently
Of course, being pregnant can also increase your chances of having a yeast infection. However, doctors aren’t exactly sure why this is. Some suggest that having a lowered immune system gives the fungus an increased opportunity to grow. Other disagree and feel that the increased risk is attributable to your hormones affecting the acid alkali balance in your vagina, making it a suitable environment for vaginal thrush to flare up in.
Yeast Infection Symptoms
If you’ve ever had a yeast infection, you are well aware of how unbearable they can make life. It is often said that a yeast infection looks like cottage cheese because of the thick vaginal discharge many women experience. A yeast infection also causes severe vaginal itching. Other thrush symptoms include burning and irritation in the vaginal area; redness of the external vaginal area and, possibly, pain during sex.
While it is extremely hard to miss the symptoms of a yeast infection, it is important that you get a proper diagnosis from a doctor before you begin any yeast infection treatment. Since the signs and symptoms of a yeast infection are often very similar to other vaginal problems, like bacterial vaginosis, it can be easy to misdiagnose the problem. Receiving a proper diagnosis is especially important if you are pregnant.
Because the common medications for yeast infections involve strong chemicals and antifungal creams, it is not a good idea to use these methods without knowing for sure that you are using the right treatment. When you are pregnant, especially, you do not want to use anything that may endanger the life of your child.
It is important to receive proper treatment for your yeast infection. Not only will leaving it alone make your life miserable, but it also won’t help the infection clear up. Additionally, if left untreated, you can experience chronic yeast infections or, more seriously, it can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease or an infected fallopian tube. Luckily, yeast infections can easily be treated through a variety of methods.
Medications for yeast infections include oral pills, suppositories and topical creams, which are applied directly to the vaginal area. When you are pregnant, though, it is not recommended to take oral treatments because the drugs enter your blood system. While topical creams are generally thought to be okay, there is some concern over their use during the first trimester. If you are in your first trimester, your health care provider will likely suggest a milder cream than the standard vaginal creams.
Alternatively, yogurt has long been known to help treat yeast infections. Yogurt contains acidophilus bacteria, which kills off the yeast. However, you need to use plain yogurt that contains live acidophilus bacteria with no added sugar. You can apply the yogurt directly to your vagina to treat your yeast infection. Many women have also found that simply eating yogurt can help prevent a yeast infection from occurring.
Gentian violet is also commonly used to naturally treat thrush. Although it is known as one of the oldest remedies for yeast infections, it has come under fire lately as a possible carcinogen. Additionally, gentian violet has a tendency to dye everything it touches purple, so you may want to discuss the use of this option with your health care provider first. To relieve the itchiness, apply a witch-hazel compress to the affected external area.
Eating yogurt is not the only thing you can do to ward off a yeast infection.
- Wear cotton underpants and pantyhose with a cotton crotch.
- Keep the area dry. Candida albicans thrives in warm, moist areas.
- Eat a diet high in grains, vegetables and protein.
- Avoid eating processed foods, sugar and alcohol. You may also want to reduce the amount of simple carbohydrates in your diet.
Yeast Infections and Your Baby
While a yeast infection does not pose a problem to your child during pregnancy, a yeast infection during labor may lead to oral thrush. Thrush in infants is different from a vaginal yeast infection. However, it can easily be treated by your child’s health care provider.
|Trying to find relief from the discomfort of thrush? Find out how other pregnant women dealt with their bout of thrush in the forum