Yeast Infection or STD?
Oh, I Know What That Itching Is: Yeast Infection
Most women have had experience with that horrible itchy feeling that doesn't go away. Sometimes it burns when you urinate and is painful during intercourse. There's this cottage cheesy discharge that, while it doesn't smell, is a real nuisance. You guessed it, it is a yeast infection and it usually shows up about a week before you start your menstrual period.
What is a Yeast Infection and How Did I Get It?
Yeast is a fungus and the type of yeast that causes a vaginal infection has a scientific name - Candida albicans. Yeast is commonly present on our skin and in areas of moisture, like our mouths and vaginas. As a matter of fact, nearly 50% of normal, healthy women carry yeast in their vagina area. A vaginal yeast infection happens when the quantity of yeast already present in a woman's body increases. An example of how this happens is when all of the good bacteria that help to keep yeast in check are wiped out by the antibiotics taken to deal with a urinary tract infection. The yeast then multiplies, invades tissues and causes that burning and itching irritation in the vagina which is often accompanied by a cottage cheesy looking discharge. The burning and pain in the vagina is referred to medically as vaginitis.
It Might Not Be Yeast: Maybe It's an STD
A vaginal yeast infection is not considered to be an STD, since Candida may be present in a normal vagina. The infection can occur in celibate women as well. The symptoms of a yeast infection are nonspecific, which means that other conditions can cause the same symptoms, so sometimes a woman thinks she has a yeast infection when, in fact, it can be something different. If you've been dealing with what you believe is a yeast infection with over-the-counter treatments and it hasn't gone away, it is wise to have a test done to see if, indeed, it is yeast. The doctor may scrape a specimen from your vaginal wall and send it away for a microscopic analysis or for culture in the lab. Such infections as bacterial vaginosis, Chlamydia and gonorrhea present the same symptoms as a yeast infection, so checking is out is a good idea.
Great Idea - Self Testing for Yeast Infections
Since nearly 75% of all women in the developed world will have an opportunity to experience a yeast infection at least once in their lives, a company in Israel has developed the first-ever over-the-counter test for Candida albicans. The test is called Savvycheck and is available in several countries at this time. It allows a woman who thinks she's suffering from a yeast infection to test and diagnose herself with a little device that will give her the results of the test in a few minutes.
Treatment of Candida Albicans
A vaginal yeast infection may be treated with over-the-counter medications which are applied topically in and around the vagina. They can also be treated with oral medication; however, some oral medications have nasty side effects, such as headache, nausea, and abdominal pain. They also aren't recommended for pregnant women. Most doctors recommend the topical treatments over the oral treatments.
The good news is that if it is a yeast infection, it will usually clear up quite quickly with proper use of medication.