Some people may be susceptible to frequent yeast infections but there are steps you can take to prevent them — if you know what triggers them But there it is again — the maddening itch that signals another vaginal yeast infection. If you have 4 or more vaginal yeast infections a year, you have a chronic yeast infection problem, says Erin Nelson, MD, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology in the School of Medicine at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. Chronic yeast infections can be frustrating for patients and doctors, says Linda Masini, a nurse practitioner at Advocate Medical Group in Chicago.
Why do yeast infections keep coming back, no matter what you do? Read on for common triggers of chronic vaginal yeast infections… 1. Your DNA might be working against you. Two genetic mutations might make some women more susceptible to Candida albicans, the fungus most responsible for chronic vaginal yeast infections, according to a French study conducted by the National Institutes of Health and Medical Research and the University Paris Descartes.
The genetic link might explain why frequent yeast infections seem more common in some families than in others. In a study, researchers at Radboud University in the Netherlands examined the genetic profiles of 11 patients from 5 families who had chronic yeast infections and identified an inherited genetic mutation that made members of those families more susceptible.
Your boyfriend might be part of the chronic yeast infection problem. Yes, men can get yeast infections, which are called balanitis, according to the US National Library of Medicine. It makes the head of the penis red, sore and itchy.
Uncircumcised men are more susceptible to balanitis. But Candida can be passed between sexual partners, according to the Mayo Clinic. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists ACOG lists spermicide — including the kind found on condoms — as a leading cause of vaginal irritation, which can lead to vaginal yeast infections. Some medications make condoms more likely to break, ruining their effectiveness at preventing disease and pregnancy, according to Planned Parenthood, a nonprofit organization that runs sexual health and family planning clinics.
Candida albicans is found in the mouths of one-third to one-half of all adults, researchers say. The symptoms of yeast infection are similar to those of trichomoniasis, the most common, curable, sexually transmitted disease in young, sexually active women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention CDC. The federal agency estimates 7.
Trichomoniasis is caused by a parasite and must be treated with an antibiotic — not an anti-yeast medication. You could be pregnant. Because of hormone changes, the vaginal secretions of pregnant women contain more sugar, which can feed Candida albicans, according to the American Pregnancy Association. But topical treatments for frequent yeast infections are safe for pregnant and breastfeeding women, she says. Your panty liners might be making it worse. If moisture makes yeast grow, then keeping panties dry should help fight yeast infections, right?
Yes — but not if you use panty liners. Yeast can become concentrated on a panty liner, making the infection worse, Nelson says. Your immune system might not be up to par. Steroids also can make it hard for your immune system to fight a yeast infection, Nelson says, because they counteract the inflammation that is a necessary first step in your immune response.
Diseases that attack the immune system, like HIV and leukemia, can let yeast grow wild, according to a University of Utah study. Your blood sugar could be high. Murray, ND, author of Chronic Candidiasis: Many of the same conditions that cause vaginal yeast infections can also cause yeast to flourish in your intestines, Murray says.
If you have low energy, depression, irritability, worsening PMS, and heightened sensitivity to foods, chemicals, and other allergens — in addition to chronic vaginal yeast infections — ask your doctor whether you might have an overgrowth of Candida albicans in your intestines. You might be approaching menopause. In the years immediately before menopause , your hormones undergo some radical changes — and according to Dr. Senapati, hormonal shifts can cause an imbalance in your vaginal bacteria, which may boost Candida growth.
Your disability might be a factor. If you use a wheelchair, you are more at risk for recurring yeast infections. If you also have a problem with incontinence, you are even more likely to have yeast infections. According to information from the US National Library of Medicine, anti-fungal powders and skin-protective ointments can help women who use wheelchairs avoid yeast infections.
You might need a longer course of yeast infection treatment. Your most recent yeast infection might be nothing new — in fact, it might be your old yeast infection reappearing. Researchers at the University of Leeds in Britain in followed 48 women diagnosed with vaginal yeast infections for 12 weeks. Although all the subjects were initially helped by medical treatment, about half had a subsequent yeast infection — and genetic testing showed that most of those women were actually experiencing a resurgence of the same infectious organism.
She says creams are messier but they go to work about 2 days faster than pills do. You might have a rare yeast infection strain. In a Iranian study of women diagnosed with yeast infections, 1 in 3 turned out to have a yeast other than Candida albicans. The second most common yeast identified in the study was Candida glabrata, which causes less discharge than Candida albicans, Dr.
The main symptoms are redness and itching, and common medications — such as fluconazole and miconazole — may not work against these less common species, she says. See your doctor for a laboratory culture that will determine which kind of yeast is causing your infection, Dr. Medications are available that work against rare strains. You might not have a yeast infection at all. American women spend millions of dollars per year on over-the-counter medications for chronic yeast infections, Dr.
In a Medical College of Georgia study, 95 women who had purchased over-the-counter yeast infection treatments were given free medical tests; only about one-third had yeast infections. What feels like a yeast infection might even be a condition called vulvodynia, which causes severe pain and burning at the opening of the vagina, Dr. Suspected causes include injury or trauma; increased sensitivity to hormones; and an increased density of nerve fibers in the vulva, according to the National Vulvodynia Association, an educational, nonprofit organization that helps fund medical research on this condition.
For more information, visit our Yeast Infections Health Center. Redness, itchiness and a strange, white discharge that looks like cottage cheese. Do you have a yeast infection — or something worse? Do you know what they are? Take this quiz to find out. Sign up for our Women's Health Newsletter! Thanks for signing up for our newsletter! You should see it in your inbox very soon.
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