Yeast infections are the most common type of vaginal infection and arguably the least fun. Up to three out of four people with vaginas will get a yeast infection at some point in their life, and most will get more than one.
So we’re all doomed! Sort of.
Bless Jane Sloan from The Bold Type who admitted to having the itch from the yeast in her va-jay-jay while doing a panel. That shit is uncomfortable, and often painfully itchy with you wanting to scratch even in public places.
And, because of the incredible terrible patriarchal privacy maintained around genitalia, people with vaginas have to suffer in silence.
Uh, so my vagina has yeast in it?!
Yes, your vagina has yeast. The pH balance of your vagina is slightly acidic and it contains the bacteria Candida in small numbers. An increase in this bacteria causes candidal vulvovaginitis or candidiasis or the yeast infection those of us with vaginas know and fear.
But it is so common, about three in every four vagina-holders have had a yeast infection at some time.
You’ve guessed correctly: it’s the worst.
Salena Zanotti, MD, a gynecologist at Cleveland Clinicestimates that about 10 to 20% of women have some candida but not an infection. “A yeast infection is when you are symptomatic from the candida,” she says. The infections usually start affecting people after they have gone through puberty, stopping once menopause hits.
The first time I had a yeast infection (and hopefully the last), it spoilt my mood for the entire week.
With the constant redness, the swelling and the definite itchiness it was a nightmare to step out because how would you try and pretend to be comfortable in public when your entire clit was on fire.
How do you even get a yeast infection?
Not a sexually transmitted infection, candidiasis however occurs more when one is more frequently sexually active. Not to fear though, it is just very uncomfortable and treatable.
It is the second most common inflammation of the vagina after bacterial vaginosis. Yeast infection typically occurs because of the bacteria Candida albicans. They are normal fungi harbored in the mouth, digestive tract or vagina without causing any adverse symptoms.
It’s also important to understand that a vaginal yeast infection isn’t the same thing as other types of fungal infections, like athlete’s foot or a fungal infection in the groin or elsewhere on the body. Nor can vaginal yeast infections cause them.
“We haven’t found any association,” Dr. Zanotti says. “Vaginal yeast infections are pretty isolated. They don’t increase your risk for other skin yeast infections or oral thrush, or anything like that.”
Okay, but how do I know if I really have one?
According to Dr. Ann Peters, MD, a gynecologist at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, MD, yeast infections “most commonly present with itching, burning, vulvar/vaginal pain, vulvar swelling and vaginal discharge that is often thick, clumpy and white.”
Other symptoms might include:
- Burning while urinating or having sexual intercourse
- Redness, swelling of the vulva
- Watery, clear vaginal discharge
So, what’s with this uncomfortable experience?
There are various causes though they aren’t fully explored.
For some, they occur during pregnancy due to the high estrogen levels in the body, for others having antibiotics for the full course causes an increase in the yeast in the body.
Poorly controlled diabetes and poor immunity are also causes. High frequency of intercourse, vaginal douching, and uses of scented vaginal products also increase the rise of the inflamed vagina.
The moral of the story: don’t use scented vaginal products but a light vaginal wash that’s pH-balanced with the slightly acidic pH level of your va-jay-jay.
What happens when there’s too much yeast down there?
Uncomplicated, recurrent, or complicated infections occur ranging from mild to severe symptoms respectively. Mild symptoms (such as a bout of itching) occur in almost four episodes a year.
I mean, our beautiful area does itch every once in a while. However, symptoms of normal candidiasis also include burning with urination and white clumpy vaginal discharge.
There might also be pain experienced during sex and redness around the vagina, worsening with incoming periods.
How can you treat your infection — and what should you stay away from?
There are vaginal suppositories that you can buy OTC (like Monistat) that contain an egg-shaped anti-fungal medication that you shoot up your vagina like you would a tampon. It slowly dissolves and treats the infection in a day or two, but the medication itself tends to produce a little discharge, which is totally normal but potentially annoying.
Easily treatable with anti-fungal medicine, it’s also a safe bet to go to an OB/GYN with your symptoms, because they will have answers. If you’d rather take a pill, there’s a prescription pill called fluconazole that stops the infection in one dose — and both treatments are equally effective, according to one study.
But it’s up to you to make sure you prevent the yeast from coming back.
You can prevent the yeast, however, by not douching your vagina, changing menstrual products frequently, absolutely not using scented products anywhere near your queen, wearing cotton underwear that is loose, changing swimsuits often and having blood sugar under control.
Always remember that your vagina is self-cleaning and very rarely requires products to be cleaned.
Thus, say no to shit like vaginal steaming, you don’t need that.
Can I still have sex while I’m on this thing?
Yeast infections won’t affect your fertility or if you can get pregnant, something some people may worry about.
But you may want to hold off sexual activity until your symptoms go away to avoid further irritation and discomfort, as well as small micro-tears caused by friction from penetrative sex.
If you are comfortable having sex while you have a yeast infection, there’s generally no medical reason to avoid it. But there is an exception.
If you’re using a vaginal cream, ointment or suppository, do not have sex until the treatment is finished.
Normalize this shit. Yes, I mean yeast.
It is okay to get one, and it is okay to speak about having one in public. This is as normal as having periods. Having a vagina requires you taking good care of her.
You need to start normalizing talking about it, because enough with us having to bear discomfort in silence.
Yes, I have a yeast infection (not currently, but you get the sentiment) and no, I will not keep quiet about it.
Your queen might have an infection and it is indeed okay. 75% of people with vaginas get one in their life.
Take care of your va-jay-jay, and treat her like a queen because she deserves it. And if you get a yeast infection, just go to a doctor unabashedly.
Never feel ashamed, because everyone who’s anyone has definitely had one.