NOTE: Potential female anatomy and sexual health details up ahead!
Most of us are probably familiar with the use of yeast (or at least what yeast is) – in beers, and breads – but how many of us know that we have yeast cells in our bodies? Ohyes, we have them in our mouths and for the women, in our vaginas too; they live side by side with some very good bacteria and well, some not so good ones. Yeast is part of the whole system of living organisms in our bodies and when one small bit of the ‘system’ is disrupted, some bacteria explode in terms of population, leading to infections.
Commonly known as ‘vaginal yeast infection‘ or just ‘yeast infection’, Candidiasis is just that – an organism population explosion. It usually occurs because of stress, changes in the hormones, frequent douching, too much sugar (diabetic women get this alot) and even changes in the Ph level of the vagina itself.
You know roughly when you’ve been ‘attacked’ by yeast when your vulva and vagina start itching like crazy, and if you grab a mirror* and look, the folds of the skin and entrance of the vagina look red and not pink. Bad attacks include the above AND a discharge that looks somewhat like cottage cheese (all lumpy and white) – now if you have problems imagining what it looks like, just think of crumbling fetta cheese all over your fingers OR you can look here (WARNING: Gross picture). Now, the discharge for yeast infections usually is not foul smelling – so if it stinks or looks yellow, it means you have some other problems too.
* Ladies, if you have never seen how your kitty-cat looks like, I suggest you start TODAY. There is nothing wrong with examining how your vulva and the area around it looks like – actually it helps you identify if there is anything wrong. Your partner (if you have one) has to put up with looking and hell, even tasting it, so what’s wrong with you just looking? :p
So what do you do when your kitty-cat starts to really itch and when you grab the mirror, you get this weird looking lumpy discharge?
Well, first of all, go see a doctor – just to double-confirm that it is really a yeast infection AND to check with her/him as to what to do. Preference of the biological sex of the doctor is up to you – although I usually prefer a female doctor (they tend to be more sympathy and well, I’m just not used to the idea of another man sticking up his fingers and/or looking into my vagina).
The doctor will ask you what’s wrong and then get you to strip (pants/skirt AND panties off), lie down on a bed with a blanket covering your legs – they just normally lift up the blanket and take a peep. You know how some ladies are – shy and all that… Some doctors will take swabs just to be sure.
Oh, be prepared for intimate questions like “Are you sexually active?” and stuff – it pays to be honest plus there is also a doctor-patient priviledge thingie to consider. So no worries about that. The doc will give you some advice on what to do – some of it, I’ll mention later on – and that’s it. You’re done.
Now, many people think that yeast infection is a ‘dirty’ disease because of its cousin (mouth trush) being part of the whole AIDS combo but actually yeast infections are very common in women. Almost 75% of women worldwide who have had a yeast infection before they hit menopause and twice after their hit menopause. There are no long term consequences for a yeast infection and it usually clears up – with medication – within a few days or a week. It’s annoying but nothing dangerous. There are some people out there who get recurrent attacks – so usually the doc advises the partner to clean up before getting it on and wear a condom OR no sex during the infection period.
BTW, men get yeast infections too – and they show no symptoms at all. Scary, huh?
Okay, so what if you NEVER ever want to have a yeast infection?
In a nutshell, start eating A LOT of fruits, yoghurt (find out why here – natural ones are good) and cranberry juice (cranberry also helps to prevent UTI – which women are prone to getting as well coz they have a shorter pee track then men!). Drink heaps of water – cut down on the alcohol and sugary drinks – and if you’re diabetic, you have to control your sugar level (so less carbs, less sugar).
You might also want to consider…
- Changing your underwear (cotton is always better than synthetic fibres),
- Washing and drying your kitty-cat after a workout,
- Quit wearing those god-awful tight jeans,
- Stop douching (you’re killing all the good bacteria!), and…
- Do wipe from front to back please.
I reckon this is part and parcel of getting a vaginal yeast infection. For one, I don’t see anything gross about it and it’s always good to learn more about your body (and how it works). At least it benefited me – yes, yes, I checked myself in with the gyno and did a check because I was having this infection (geez, first my earlobe now my privates!). She said it was a bad case of yeast infection; usually mild attacks have no cottage cheese discharge – so she gave me three tables to take once a week and those tips as well. She also did my FIRST pap smear for me and I’ll be getting my result next week. More about that in another entry.
So yeah. Here’s to being a woman…
I just spoke to a dietitian/nutritionist friend of mine and she agreed with the doc’s suggestion on taking probiotic supplements for treating yeast infections and for general health (preventing it that is). Probiotic supplements are basically capsules containing culture – like acidophilus, and etc – it’s like taking a huge dose of yoghurt. ^_^
She also mentioned that the dosage is differs with the use. If you’re taking it for general health, probiotics containing 1.5 billion live organisms in each capsule is okay. If you’re taking it for treatment, then you have to get probiotics that have at least 8 billion live organisms.
You can get probiotic supplements from any health food store – I just got one for general health (1.5 billion), called Kyo-Dophilus (90 capsules) with L.acidophilus, B.bidifum and B.longum for RM67 – it was actually RM79.90 but there was a promotion. Am planning to get the 8 billion dosage after I’m done with this one just to prevent reoccurence of yeast infection.
She also did mention that if you have acne that is not hormone related, probiotics supplements (the 8 – 20 billion) dose is great for treating stubborn acne! ^_^