Yeast infections during pregnancy are common but fortunately can be treated easily. Also known as Candida, this vaginal infection is caused by an organism called Candida albicans. The main reason for its high occurrence is the high levels of estrogen typically found during pregnancy. Other reasons for fungus to thrive include diabetes and oral contraceptive pills.
A little Background on Candida or yeast Infections
- Thrush, candidiasis or yeast infections are some names used for the most common and irritating vaginal irritation.
- Though Candida is present to some extent in the vagina of most women, infections develop when the natural balance of microorganisms become upset causing yeast to flourish.
- It thrives well in the relatively high sugar content of the cells lining the vagina during pregnancy. Yeast grows very well in sugary environments. The most common change during pregnancy is a drop in the acidity level in the vaginal area which causes an increase in sugar storage in the vaginal cell walls.
- It may be a new infection contracted during pregnancy or one that was lying dormant for a while only to flare up later.
- Candida albicans is typically a one cell fungus and under normal circumstances it stays friendly and harmless. Varied reasons such as pregnancy, diabetes, antibiotics treatment etc. causes candida to multiply and change into long branches of yeast cells.
Causes of Yeast Infections during Pregnancy
- Pregnancy and diabetes cause the sugar and ph content of the vagina to rise
- Women who take hormones inclusive of birth control pills or steroid drugs
- Daily diet of refined sugar
- Tight, synthetic clothing around the vaginal area promotes its growth
- Several rounds of antibiotics especially if taken close together
Typical Symptoms to deal with Yeast Infections during Pregnancy
- Severe itching and curdy, white discharge that resembles cottage cheese.
- Swelling, redness and irritation of the inner and outer vaginal lips
- The discharge smells bread-like, fermented yeast
- Discharge may also be thin and mucoid
- Painful sex
- Painful urination due to irritation of the urethra
- Irritation can be distressing enough to cause sleepless nights
- Some women have no symptoms at all
- Avoid wearing tight clothing around your vagina: tight jeans, pants, panties or leotards
- Keep the vaginal area clean and dry. Wipe from front to back. Consider using baby wipes when in public places
- Wear 100% cotton underwear or other natural fibered material around your vagina; avoid nylon and other synthetic ones
- Avoid using dusting powders since they are mostly starch based and starch encourages the growth of fungus cultures
- Avoid antibiotics unless very necessary
- Avoid scented toilet paper and using vaginal deodorants or sprays
- Avoid douching unless deemed necessary
- In terms of dietary changes, drink plenty of water to wash out toxins from your body. Include quality fat into your diet e.g. olive oil, flax seed oil. Avoid depending too much on a diet rich in yeast-based, sugary foods and dairy products. Yeast thrives on sugar and that includes artificial sweeteners
Do not Self-treat
- Consult your doctor that you are indeed having a yeast infection because self-diagnosing can be a misdiagnosis. Many people resort to self-treatment because of the easily available OTC medications. If you are pregnant work with your doctor instead of trying home remedies or OTC medicines.
- Procedure is fairly simple and inexpensive: a pelvic exam followed by an inspection of the vaginal discharge to check on the fungi is carried out by your doctor
- Treatment is straightforward; a pessary is placed in the vagina and sometimes cream can be smeared on the sore spots. Medication is mostly
- Some people prefer home treatments like vinegar douches, inserting yogurt or acidophilus capsules into the vagina. These help to lower the vaginal ph. These remedies are probably not harmful but should the symptoms persist then a visit to the doctor becomes necessary.
A word on Antibiotics
An antibiotic course for any infection needs to be completed. The problem with antibiotics is it kills both the friendly and harmful bacteria. The infection only subsides once you finish the course of antibiotics. As a precaution, probiotics should be taken regularly several times a day during and for about 2 weeks after finishing the course. This will help keep yeast infections at bay.