What is genital yeast infection, and what can you do to prevent it? An explainer
Though common among women — they affect 3 out of 4 women, usually between the ages of 15 and 44 years — genital yeast infections are not exclusive to them.
Though common among women, genital yeast infections are not exclusive to them
It affects three out of four women, usually between the ages of 15 and 44 years
The symptoms of yeast infection in men are not as severe as in women
Fungi love the damp and warm climate of the rainy months - the rise in fungal infections bears testimony to this fact year in and year out. Genital yeast infections are no exception.
Though common among women — they affect three out of four women, usually between the ages of 15 and 44 years — genital yeast infections are not exclusive to them.
A little bit of awareness and care can save you from a burning, itching hell. Read on to know about vaginal and penile yeast infections, and what you can do to prevent them:
Vaginal yeast infection
There is a natural balance of the good bacteria lactobacillus and Candida albicans yeast in the vagina. Lactobacillus produces an acid to keep the growth of Candida albicans yeast in check - an imbalance between the two results in the overgrowth of the yeast, which is the most common cause of yeast infection.
The common causes of this imbalance and the overgrowth of yeast are:
- Use of antibiotics that can kill all types of bacteria, including those present in the vagina
- Uncontrolled diabetes
- Taking birth control pills which can increase estrogen levels. Hormone therapies to increase estrogen levels can also lead to this imbalance
- Weak immune system
Signs and symptoms
Yeast infection is often mild and easily treatable. Though some women can develop a more severe or complicated infection, too. The symptoms of moderate vaginal yeast infection are:
- Irritation and itching in the vagina and vulva
- Painful urination and intercourse accompanied by burning sensations
- Redness along with swelling in vulva and vagina
- Rashes, pain and soreness in vagina
- Watery or thick, white cottage cheese-like vaginal discharge which is normally odour-free
The symptoms of complicated yeast infection are:
- Vaginal infection recurs more than four times
- Symptoms like redness, swelling and itching are severe and may lead to cracks, tears and sores in the vagina and vulva
Some of the more common reasons for getting "complicated" vaginal yeast infection are pregnancy, diabetes and weakened immune system because of HIV infection.
Penile yeast infection
Candida albicans yeast is present in male bodies, too. The moisture and folds of the uncircumcised penis make it the perfect habitat for the fungus. The symptoms of yeast infection in men are not as severe as in women, and include:
- Redness of the penis
- White patches on the penis
- Itching or burning sensation in the groin area
Prevention of yeast infection
- Choose cotton: Instead of satin or silk, choose cotton for your undergarments. It readily absorbs moisture and helps your skin to breathe.
- Keep it loose: Instead of body-hugging clothes, wear clothes (including undergarments) that are a bit loose. Tight clothes increase the temperature of your body and thus increase the moisture around your private parts. Fungus and yeast can rapidly multiply in moist conditions.
- Dry and clean: Pay more than usual attention to hygiene. Remember to towel off before putting on your clothes. If you're having your period, change your pads regularly.
- No wet clothes: Change quickly after swimming or a gym session. Also, change as fast as you can if you get caught in a downpour.
- No hot baths: Hot showers, hot baths and hot tubs kill the good bacteria and thus encourage the overgrowth of yeast. Scented toiletries or sanitary pads should be avoided for good.
- Avoid antibiotics: Antibiotics kill all types of bacteria, including the good bacteria like lactobacillus, which increases the chances of other infections. Only take antibiotics if and when your physician prescribes them.
Health articles in Firstpost are written by myUpchar.com, India’s first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health. For more information on these topics, please read our articles on Vaginal Yeast Infection and Penile Yeast Infection.
The information provided here is intended to provide free education about certain medical conditions and certain possible treatment. It is not a substitute for examination, diagnosis, treatment, and medical care provided by a licensed and qualified health professional. If you believe you, your child or someone you know suffers from the conditions described herein, please see your health care provider immediately. Do not attempt to treat yourself, your child, or anyone else without proper medical supervision. You acknowledge and agree that neither myUpchar nor firstpost is liable for any loss or damage which may be incurred by you as a result of the information provided here, or as a result of any reliance placed by you on the completeness, accuracy or existence of any information provided herein.