A healthy vagina has certain types of bacteria and yeast that create a microbiome that maintain the local immune system and protect against various diseases. But when the levels of yeast and bacteria are imbalanced, the yeast cells can multiply resulting in candidiasis.
Yeast infection ranges in severity and has similar symptoms to other vaginal infections such as vaginitis or bacterial vaginosis. Here are the most common symptoms of yeast infection:
In the case of severe yeast infection, you might have more intense redness, swelling, and itching that provoke cracks, tears, and sores.
There are lots of things that can affect the vaginal microbiome and trigger yeast infection. These include:1. Estrogen imbalance
Interestingly, hormone changes may provoke yeast infections. But not all hormone fluctuations lead to yeast infections. Women with high estrogen levels are more prone to yeast infections. Pregnancy, birth control pills, estrogen replacement therapy, some herbal remedies, and certain antibiotics often elevate estrogen.
But why is this hormone linked to yeast infections? Estrogen raises glycogen (a type of glucose) levels in the vagina which fosters yeast overgrowth.2. A new sex partner
A yeast infection is not a sexually transmitted infection but having a new sex partner or several sex partners changes the vaginal pH level. It creates an ideal environment for fungal and bacterial growth.3. Antibiotics
Antibiotics kill not only harmful bacteria, but they also disrupt your normal microbiome all over the body making your body more susceptible to yeast infections. When antibiotics kill good bacteria in the vagina, the yeast starts to overgrow resulting in an infection. The best way to solve this problem is to ask your healthcare provider about taking a probiotic to save your good bacteria.4. Douching
Many doctors don't recommend performing a vaginal douche which includes putting fluids into the vagina with a squirt bottle to clean yourself. Douching negatively affects normal vaginal pH and provokes yeast or bacterial overgrowth.
Cleaning inside the vagina with soap is also a bad idea. Vagina cleans itself well by creating discharge. Rinsing the area around the vulva with warm water while showering is enough. If you don't disrupt your microbiome, the bacteria and yeast will stay balanced on their own.5. Certain types of lubes
Many women are sensitive to certain lubes, especially glycerin-based. This type of lubes contains sugar that promotes yeast growth. Flavored and warming lubes are other bad options for your vagina due to their sugar and irritating chemical content.
Silicone-based lubes may also impact your vaginal environment leading to yeast overgrowth. If you're prone to yeast infections choose water-based lube that doesn't contain glycerin. A spermicide and condoms that contain glycerin can provoke yeast infections in some people as well.6. Laundry detergent or irritating bath products
A new body wash or laundry detergent with fragrance can negatively affect your vaginal pH and trigger allergic reactions or yeast infections. But even if you still don't have a yeast infection, using these products often provokes this condition over time.
Some women may get contact dermatitis when using a new detergent. Dermatitis is accompanied by severe itchiness and redness. These symptoms might be misdiagnosed as an infection, for which you may be prescribed an antibiotic. As you already know, antibiotics are one of the most common triggers of yeast infections.7. Keeping your vagina wet when sitting in sweaty or wet clothes
To multiply, yeast needs a warm and wet environment. Anything that keeps your vagina hot and wet, like wearing wet or sweaty clothes, increases your chances of getting a yeast infection.
Wear sports underwear made of moisture-wicking material such as polyester if you're going to get super sweaty. Pulling the moisture away from your skin and keeping the whole area drier will help you prevent yeast overgrowth.8. Diabetes
Diabetes is a complex condition in which blood sugar levels in your blood are too high. Yeast is fed on glucose, which is why diabetes is a possible culprit of this type of infection. As soon as you take your blood sugar levels under control, your yeast infection will be easily treated.The Bottom Line
Yeast infection is extremely common in women. It's treatable and preventable. Knowing the exact cause of your yeast infection will help you get rid of this issue successfully. If you can't eliminate this infection, talk to your gynecologist to get the proper treatment.