Vaginal yeast infections, also known as candidiasis, are a common women’s health problem caused by an overgrowth of fungus, most often Candida albicans. Candida albicans is normally found in small amounts in the human body, as are many different types of bacteria and yeast. In the vagina there is one particular bacteria, Lactobacillus acidophilus, that helps to keep the balance of healthy bacteria and yeasts. A change in pH or a change in estrogen levels can throw off this healthy balance, as can antibiotics, and certain health problems. When the balance is thrown off, or when too much of the healthy Lactobacillus acidophilus dies out, overgrowths of other bacteria and yeast can occur.
The majority of women will experience at least one vaginal yeast infection in their lifetime, and some women experience frequent, recurring yeast infections. Yeast infections are more common during pregnancy, in those doing estrogen hormone replacement therapy, in those with uncontrolled diabetes, in those with impaired immune systems, and in those who are sexually active (the Candida fungus can be spread through sexual contact, especially oral to genital).
Yeast infections cause irritation, intense itching of the vagina and vulva, and discharge (either watery or thick and white). They can also cause a burning sensation (during intercourse or while urinating), redness and swelling of the vulva, vaginal pain and soreness, or a vaginal rash.
These uncomfortable symptoms can make day to day life unpleasant for the duration of the infection. Additionally, a yeast infection can develop into something more systemic if left untreated. Yeast infections are easily treatable with over the counter and prescription antifungal medications like fluconazole (Diflucan). However, these should not be used during pregnancy. Additionally, they do not really get to the root of the imbalance. Acupuncture and nutrition therapy can help to heal the underlying causes of the overgrowth of Candida, rebalance the body and strengthen the immune system to prevent recurring yeast infections. Call our women’s health experts today to learn more about how we can help support your health.