No matter how much you protect yourself, yeast infections can sometimes recur. When the infection reappears four times a year or more, it becomes chronic. Almost 10 percent of women have this problem.
If you’re one of them, you probably ask yourself: Why do I keep getting yeast infections? The reasons can be many. This article will look into the symptoms and causes of yeast infections which could help you prevent them from recurring in the future.
How Do I Get a Yeast Infection?
Yeast infections are usually caused by a fungus called Candida albicans. This fungus lives in your body, and all women have it. The infection happens when Candida starts overgrowing. If your body somehow becomes a suitable environment for candida to grow, you will develop an infection.
Lactobacillus is a genus of healthy bacteria that live in your body. These bacteria make acid that stops Candida from overgrowth. They are also responsible for keeping your vagina healthy. Yeast and bacteria live together in balance. If something happens to unsettle this balance, such as the lack of Lactobacillus or an accumulation of acid in the body, yeast will grow.
Symptoms of a Yeast Infection
You will realize you have an infection soon after it develops.
Some of the common symptoms include:
- Burning while urinating or during sexual intercourse
- Annoying itch and irritation
- Swelling or pain
- Thick, white discharge resembling cheese
- Liquid, watery discharge
Why Do I keep Getting Yeast Infections?
Chronic yeast infections are not easy to regulate. You may do everything right and still get infected. The best you can do is to get to know all the possible causes and tick them off one by one.
The usual causes include the following:
Use of Antibiotics
If you often use antibiotics, they could eliminate healthy bacteria from your body, too. When taking too many antibiotics, you are unsettling and destroying your body flora. It takes a while for Lactobacillus to regenerate and restore the balance.
Use of Soap or Shower Gel
When you use a bar of soap or a shower gel to wash your intimate parts, you are risking an infection. The anti-bacterial properties of these products threaten to destroy the healthy bacteria and the natural pH balance. Avoid cleaning the inside of the vagina to prevent unsettling your pH balance.
Sometimes It’s Hereditary
Some studies have shown that some women may not receive the necessary immune system traits to fight this infection. Due to your DNA structure, you may be more or less immune to yeast infection. The body naturally fights against Candida overgrowth. However, if your immune system can’t create proteins to battle it, you can’t prevent the spread of Candida.
It Can Be Sexually Transmitted
Both men and women are susceptible to yeast infections. You may treat your infection, but if your sexual partner doesn’t, there is a chance that you will develop another infection. You should talk to your partner to make sure this isn’t the case. Also, you should use protection until you are both fully treated.
Wearing Wet or Sweaty Clothes
If you wear wet clothes for too long, you are creating an environment in which yeast can thrive. Yeast loves warm, moist environments. You should take off your gym clothes and bathing suit as soon as you’re done using them. If you sweat a lot, especially in the summer, you should change your clothes a few times a day.
High Levels of Blood Sugar
Yeast feeds on sugar and grows quicker as a result. Your blood sugar levels can rise due to different reasons, but the most common are:
- Diabetes: High blood sugar goes hand-in-hand with diabetes. People whose bodies are unable to regulate blood sugar easily are prone to the infection.
- Hormonal changes: When your body is producing a higher amount of estrogen, the sugar in the vaginal fluid increases. If you are pregnant, undergoing estrogen hormone therapy, or taking birth control, you risk getting infected.
Having a Different Yeast Infection
Despite Candida albicans being the most usual cause of yeast infections, sometimes there may be a different type of yeast involved, the most common being Candida glabrata. While the symptoms are similar, the required medications are different.
Mistaking Your Condition for a Yeast Infection
This can happen because the symptoms of a yeast infection can resemble symptoms of other conditions. Skin allergies, bacterial vaginosis, or sexually transmitted infections can all look and feel similar.
Should I See the Doctor?
If the problem keeps recurring, you should consult your healthcare provider, especially if you’ve been experiencing recurring infections for a long time. Your gynecologist will give you a proper diagnosis, which is the first step to successfully treating this issue.
Sometimes you may not have a yeast infection at all. Maybe you have a different condition that requires different treatment. In rare cases, the symptoms of some serious conditions such as vaginal cancer or HIV may resemble a yeast infection.
Can I Treat a Chronic Yeast Infection by Myself?
Some chronic yeast infections can be treated at home with the help of over-the-counter antifungal medication, probiotics, and other home remedies.
To prevent the infection from recurring after a successful treatment, change your towels and sheets regularly and don’t share them. Wash all clothes and surfaces that have been in direct contact with the infection. As a rule, cotton underwear is the best in preventing yeast from spreading.
Ask your partner about their condition as they may also be infected. If you are taking a medication prescribed by your doctor, be sure that you finish the full course.
If the infection keeps returning and the symptoms are getting worse, you should see a doctor.
Can Infection Be Gone for Good?
Recurring yeast infections can frustrate and bother you, but they are not permanent. To get rid of this problem, you need to identify and treat the cause that has created a suitable environment for yeast to grow in your body.
More complicated infection takes more time to threat. Sometimes you may not even have a yeast infection, despite experiencing similar symptoms. It’s important to be in touch with your doctor, especially if the condition is recurring.
Be patient and persistent, and the yeast/bacteria balance will be restored.