Intense Itching, Burning Sensation: Is It a Yeast Infection?
Yeast is a common component of the vagina and is no cause for concern when its numbers are down.However, certain factors of a woman's lifestyle can promote an overgrowth of yeast, which leads to an uncomfortable occurrence for many women:the intense itching, burning sensation known as a yeast infection.
What Causes a Yeast Infection?
Yeast overgrowth can be caused by a variety of contributors: antibiotics, steroids, a weakened immune system, tight-fitting pants, diet, birth control pills, the menstrual cycle, and even allergies.For example, the "friendly bacteria" that naturally inhabit the vagina and regulate yeast may be eliminated by the use of antibiotics, allowing the yeast to multiply and cause infection.
A weakened immune system means that white blood cells are not able to fight off the yeast adequately.Tight fitting clothes or wearing a wet swimsuit too long provides ample breeding grounds for yeast.There also seems to be a connection between seminal fluid and yeast growth.Basically, any factor that allows yeast to grow unchecked paves the way for a yeast infection.
Symptoms of a Yeast Infection
A yeast infection is characterized by painful symptoms that include intense itching, redness, and a lumpish, white discharge inside or around the outside of the vagina.The itching is the most common symptom and can be very severe.A burning sensation accompanies urination as the vulva becomes irritated, and sex may be painful as well.Odor is typically not reported but some women may be able to smell a yeasty odor.
Can I Diagnose Myself?
You should always make an appointment with your doctor for diagnosis.Some yeast infection symptoms are similar to those of bacterial infections or STDs like gonorrhea or Chlamydia, so your doctor will want to rule those out.Your doctor will perform a pelvic exam to look for signs of the infection, so you should not douche.
You should never self-diagnose because, although it may look and feel like a yeast infection, it very well may not be.One study demonstrated that although the majority of women who participated thought their symptoms were yeast, only a quarter of them were correct.If you treat what you think is the yeast infection but is actually something else, not only could your symptoms worsen, but you could be contributing to future yeast problems by creating drug resistant yeast.
Make it Stop!
Yeast infections can be miserable at worst and inconvenient at best.Intense itching and burning sensations can make even walking difficult.There are several treatment options available for yeast infections, including over the counter antifungal creams.These can contribute to drug-resistant yeast, however, so be absolutely sure it is a yeast infection.Good communication with your doctor is vital.
If your yeast infection is pre-menstrual, menstrual blood has been known to eradicate the yeast on its own.Plain yogurt applied topically around and inside the vagina has been a widely reputed home remedy.