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October 7, 2018

5 Causes of Yeast Infections and How to Avoid Them

causes of yeast infections
illustration courtesy of Pixabay

Vaginal yeast infections can be extremely irritating as well as embarrassing if you are with a partner. What are the causes of yeast infections and how can they be prevented? What ​will ​improve ​your ​health​?

What Is a Vaginal Yeast Infection?

A yeast infection is an overgrowth of a fungus known as candida. Candida is found naturally in the vagina, but it is usually in balance with other types of yeast as well as good bacteria.

This is the case with the digestive system, which also has a mix of yeast and bacteria. Candida can overgrow there as well, causing problems such as brain fog, fatigue, irritable bowel syndrome, and also learn about ​how to ​avoid ​premature ​aging.

A yeast infection in the vagina may not cause a systemic feeling of fatigue, but it can make you extremely itchy and uncomfortable. It might even be painful.

Still, some health practitioners, particularly natural health advocates, believe that any sign of a yeast infection in the vagina is an indication of a problem with candida in the entire system. This includes the digestive system.

However, Western medicine typically treats vaginal yeast infections as a separate entity. If you have a vaginal yeast infection, you can go to any grocery store or local drug store and buy an over-the-counter (OTC) medication (to be applied topically) to solve the issue.

Some of these OTC medicines used to be available by prescription only. They are now the quick and easy way to get rid of a yeast infection, although you may choose a more natural route if you prefer holistic treatments.

5 Potential Causes of Yeast Infections

There are many ways you might end up with a vaginal yeast infection, some of which may surprise you:

1. Sexual Activity

Your typical vaginal yeast infection is not considered to be a sexually transmitted disease. However, you can possibly get one through contact with another part of someone else’s body that has an overgrowth of candida.

People can, for example, have an overgrowth of the yeast in their mouths.

2. Antibiotics

The problem with antibiotics is that, while they kill bad bacteria that may be causing you to be sick, they also kill the good bacteria in your body. So, what happens is that the antibiotics you have taken have killed off the good bacteria normally found in the vagina.

Into that vacuum comes our friend, the candida yeast. It takes over the areas where the good bacteria used to live. Antibiotics can also disrupt the pH levels in your vagina, making it more conducive for yeast overgrowth.

3. Poorly Managed Diabetes

If you have diabetes and it is not well-managed, then you have a greater chance of getting a yeast infection and . When diabetes is not managed well, the blood sugar levels can be all over the map. This affects the entire system.

4. Lowered Immune System

If your immune system is in bad shape, you are more likely to get yeast infections. This can occur from immune diseases such as AIDS but can also be caused by stress. Also, steroids can reduce the functionality of the immune system.

5. Increased Levels of Estrogen

More estrogen, whether from birth control pills, intake of phytoestrogens in food, or pregnancy, can increase the chance of vaginal yeast infections. You should also be aware that other types of hormones, such as progesterone and testosterone (a type of steroid), may have an effect on the immune system.

How Can You Avoid Yeast Infections?

Now that you know some of the causes of yeast infections, you probably already have an idea of what to do to avoid them. Of course, you can’t avoid the risk entirely.

1. Avoid Antibiotic Overuse

For example, you can’t always avoid taking antibiotics, especially if you have a serious bacterial infection. However, you can avoid using antibiotics as your first go-to every time you have a sniffle.

​2. Manage Your Blood Sugar Levels

If you have diabetes, you should make sure you are on top of it and managing your blood sugar levels. But even if you don’t have diabetes, watch your sugar. Too much sugar can grow yeast.

3. Eat Right and Stay Healthy

Also, in general, eat right and keep yourself healthy to maintain a strong immune system.

4. Improve Your Hygiene

Wash your underwear thoroughly, don’t sit around in wet bathing suits, and avoid hot saunas and hot tubs while in the throes of a yeast infection.

Yeast Infections Will Go Away

While vaginal yeast infections are annoying, the good news is they will eventually go away. You can take over-the-counter medicine, increase your intake of probiotics, and use holistic remedies such as garlic and goldenseal to help.

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Dr. Joe Jacko

Dr. Joe is board certified in internal medicine and sports medicine with additional training in hormone replacement therapy and regenerative medicine. He has trained or practiced at leading institutions including the Hughston Clinic, Cooper Clinic, Steadman-Hawkins Clinic of the Carolinas, and Cenegenics. He currently practices in Columbus, Ohio at Grandview Primary Care. Read more about Dr. Joe Jacko

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