Chronic Vulvovaginal Candidiasis
Candidiasis is most commonly referred to as yeast infection and because January is cervical health month, we at International Medical Treatment, will, in this article, focus on vaginal yeast infection. Vaginal yeast infection, also known as vulvovaginal candidiasis, is so common that approximately 75% of women worldwide experience vaginal yeast infection at least once in their lifetime.
Yeast infections can make women most uncomfortable and their recurrence can be very frustrating for women who experience chronic vulvovaginal candidiasis.
What is Chronic Vulvovaginal Candidiasis?
Candidiasis is basically a yeast infection caused by a type of candida fungus called Candida albicans. Vulvovaginal candidiasis is said to be chronic when a person gets 4 or more yeast infections a year.
What causes Chronic Vulvovaginal Candidiasis?
Yeast infection is caused by a fungus. When the infection is recurrent it is termed chronic. This recurrence can be due to:
- Suppressed Immune System: The body’s immune system can be suppressed by medications such as antibiotics when taken frequently and those medications used in treating autoimmune diseases as well as diseases like HIV which attack the immune system. When your immunity is suppressed, your body becomes susceptible to infections making it much easier to get yeast infections.
- Blood Sugar Level: Diabetes increases your risk of getting yeast infections because sugar aids the growth of yeast.
- Genetic Mutation: Certain genetic mutations increase some women’s risk of contracting yeast infections because, unlike a normal immune system, the immune systems affected by genetic mutation are unable to create the proteins necessary to fight yeast infections.
Lifestyle Factors that can lead to recurrent Yeast Infections include:
- Not getting rid of the first infection: At times you think the infection is over only for you to start getting the same symptoms after a while either because you did not finish your dose of medication or the medication did not work. Antifungal medicine targets the common fungus and therefore, if your infection is caused by a different fungus, the medicine may not be able to clear the infection.
- Drug resistance: Some strains of yeast are resistant to medications, making the infection recurrent.
- Reinfection: This might happen, for instance, by wearing the underwear you were wearing during the time you were infected. You should therefore ensure you start using new cotton underwear on completing the medication.
- Hormonal Birth control: Some contraceptives can alter the bacteria in the vagina making possible the growth of candida.
Favourable factors for yeast growth: Humidity and moisture provide a conducive environment for yeast to grow. Therefore, wearing damp clothing and living in a humid environment puts you at risk of having yeast infections often.
- What you eat: Sugar makes it easy for the growth of yeast and therefore ingesting foods and drinks with artificial sugars as well as those that are fermented can increase your risk of having recurrent yeast infections.
- Other infections: While you might wonder why you keep having to treat a yeast infection that keeps recurring, have you thought that it may not be a yeast infection in the first place?
Treating and Preventing Recurrent Chronic Vaginal Yeast Infection
Every woman is different and therefore not all treatments will work for every woman. You have to find which treatment works for you, but you should ensure that you do not use more than 3 treatments at the same time. So, how can you stop your cycle of vulvovaginal candidiasis?
- Avoid taking antibiotics often unless very necessary because they damage the immune system if taken too often.
- Instead of using hormonal contraceptives (especially those that contain oestrogen) women with a chronic candidiasis problem should consider using progesterone-only contraceptives.
- If the medication you are using does not work, tell your doctor about it so they can prescribe different medication.
- Do not self-medicate because it might not be a yeast infection but instead be a skin allergy, bacterial infection or even an STIs and in that case, you will need medication to treat the specific infection you have.
Everyday things to do to prevent the reoccurrence of vaginal yeast infections include:
- Cleaning the vagina more often than usual with mild soap. You should be aware that using an antiseptic to clean your vagina will also kill the healthy bacteria in your vagina and make you prone to yeast infections. Using plain water is the best way to clean your vagina. That said, it is best to keep off douching.
- Avoid soaking in a bath tub or sitting in damp clothes like a swimsuit because humidity will make it more likely for candida to grow.
- Buy new cotton underwear more often (including after treating a yeast infection) and when you wash your underwear, hang it outside to dry, not indoors. If you are unable to buy new underwear you can sterilize it and any other clothing, you used during the infection.
- Eat healthy. Women with chronic vaginal yeast infections should keep off sugary foods. This, however, does not mean you should keep away from such foods completely – limit their intake. Eat more vegetables and fruits. A diet rich in healthy vegetables, fruits and healthy fats and proteins nourishes your immune system, making it more capable of fighting infections, including yeast infection.
If you try to take the necessary measures to prevent yeast infections and their reoccurrence yet they do not go away, see a doctor or even a reproductive health specialist to get further tests done to find out exactly what you are suffering from and to get the necessary treatment.
IMT hopes that this information is helpful to you. If, after further tests, you have unfortunately been diagnosed with a complex condition like cervical cancer and need advanced treatment, for this and other complex vaginal health problems, we are here to help you get high quality treatment from some of the best hospitals overseas, in Thailand, The UAE, India and Turkey.