I’m going to get real with you for a second and tell you about the first time that I learned about yeast infections. It was, confusingly enough, in my eighth grade home ec. class, and we were learning how to bake bread. It was at that moment that I raised my hand and asked a perfectly innocent question: “Is it safe to eat raw bread dough because of the active yeast?” Bad move, middle school Becca.
My teacher, an older woman, decided it was time to bring me into the realm of womanhood. She took me aside and spoke to me in what she thought was a whisper, but I discovered later that the whole class heard. “Sometimes when little girls take bubble baths,” she began seriously, “they get bubbles in uncomfortable places, causing an infection.” I don’t know how she thought I was asking about yeast infections, and I just stood there awkwardly taking her womanly wisdom in. Our awkward, educational huddle finally ended, and when I turned around, my whole class was smirking at me.
No one likes to talk about vaginal yeast infections, because they are awkward, private, and–let’s face it–a bit disgusting. But it’s an important issue, especially if you have an autoimmune disease and are required to take medication. In fact, yeast infections can actually be caused by taking medications such as birth control pills or antibiotics. Not only that, but specifically diabetics are prone to yeast infections because of their wacky blood sugar levels. So, if you are living with an autoimmune disease, it may come as no surprise if you suffer from reoccurring vaginal yeast infections, too.
According to womenshealth.gov, yeast is a form of fungus; therefore, yeast infections are caused by an overgrowth of that fungus. Apparently there is always some yeast in the vagina, but an infection is caused when the yeast grows, resulting in inflammation.
But how can you tell when you actually have a yeast infection? Womenshealth.gov describes some of the symptoms as, “Burning, redness, and swelling of the vagina and the vulva; Pain when passing urine; Pain during sex; Soreness; A thick, white vaginal discharge that looks like cottage cheese and does not have a bad smell; and/or a rash on the vagina.”
These symptoms sound awful, and they are, so it’s important to get treated for a yeast infection as soon as you identify it. First of all, you should talk to your doctor to ensure that you have a yeast infection, but once it’s confirmed, you will probably be directed to one or more of the following:
Vagisil: This brand-name cream can help calm one of the most painful symptoms of yeast infections: itching. Their company also carries products such as a feminine pH balance wash, feminine wipes, feminine moisturizer, and vaginal deodorant, which can all help prevent future yeast infections. Vagisil is important to have on-hand whenever you have vaginal irritation but not necessarily a yeast infection. When an infection is first identified, Vagisil is important to have readily available to calm the itching before you get your hands on more effective treatments.
Monistat: This is just one brand of yeast infection treatment, but Monistat is the most trusted name. According to their website, Monistat offers one, three and seven-day treatments, all over-the-counter. The ExpressRelease OVULE is a vaginal suppository which you insert into the vagina and is less messy than a cream. The creams, however, are injected into the vagina through a syringe. Not only do these treatments cure your yeast infection, but they eliminate the symptoms, too, whereas Vagisil simply cures the itching. Click here to find all of Monistat’s treatment products.
Tablets: Your doctor may prescribe a medication such as Diflucan, Sporanox, or Nizoral as treatment. WebMD reported that these medications are usually prescribed when your yeast infection has not responded to vaginal medicine or in order to stop a recurring vaginal yeast infection. You can also request oral medication from your doctor if you would prefer pills instead of a topical cream. If you are pregnant, breast feeding, or trying to get pregnant, you should not take oral medication.
Whether this is your first yeast infection or your 10th, it’s important to prevent them before they start, and here are a few tips, as suggested by womenshealth.gov: “Avoid douches; Avoid scented hygiene products like bubble bath, sprays, pads, and tampons; Change tampons and pads often during your period; Don’t wear tight underwear or clothes made of synthetic fibers; Wear cotton underwear and pantyhose with a cotton crotch; Change out of wet swimsuits and exercise clothes as soon as you can; and Avoid hot tubs and very hot baths.”
It’s also important to wipe from front to back, keep your vaginal area clean, and use sanitary wipes, especially during and after your period. Monistat and Vagisil can be purchased at your local WalMart, pharmacy or even grocery store. But remember to consult your doctor first to ensure that what you have is in fact a vaginal yeast infection, and not a symptom of something entirely different.
Rebecca Price–Autoimmune Allyby
Born a North Carolinian, Rebecca Price moved to Papua New Guinea when she was 3 and lived on a Wycliffe Bible Translators center there until she graduated high school in 2010. Now a rising senior at Asbury University, Rebecca is a double major in creative writing and journalism with a minor in Spanish. Rebecca is the Executive Editor of her student newspaper, the Asbury Collegian, and a writing tutor at the Center for Academic Excellence. She has had some wonderful experiences during her time at Asbury, including reporting at the London 2012 Olympics through the NBC-affiliate LEX-18. She enjoys bunnies, coffee and AP Style.View all Rebecca Price posts.