(These questions and answers are some of the standard Q & A from traditional sources. We, of course, have a lot of confidence in the natural combination and results of monolaurin and lactoferrin – both for treatment and future prevention! However, we wanted to make some of the standard responses available. We have made some editorial comments where appropriate.)
What is a vaginal yeast infection (VYI)?
A vaginal yeast infection is irritation of the vagina and the area around it called the vulva. Yeast is a type of fungus from the Candida family. Yeast infections are most often caused by overgrowth of the fungus Candida albicans. Small amounts of yeast are always in the vagina. However, when too much yeast grows, it turns into an infection. Yeast infections are very common. About 75 percent of women have one during their lives and almost half of women have two or more vaginal yeast infections.
What is vaginitis?
The specific type of fungus most commonly responsible for vaginitis is Candida albicans. Actually, yeast is in almost all humans. Usually the body is able to keep it under control. Yeast is commonly present on normal human skin and in areas of moisture, such as the mouth and vagina. In fact, it is estimated that between 20%-50% of healthy women normally carry yeast in the vaginal area.
Vaginitis is the term for inflammation of the vagina. Vaginitis can be caused by a number of infections, including bacteria (such as Gardnerella and gonorrhea), protozoans (such as trichomonas), and yeast (Candida). Vaginal yeast infection, which is the most common form of vaginitis, is often referred to as vaginal Candidiasis.
What is vulvitis?
Vulvitis is inflammation of the external genital organs of the female (the vulva). The vulva includes the labia, clitoris, and entrance to the vagina (the vestibule of the vagina). An inflammation of the vulva takes it’s name from it and is referred to as vulvitis. Vulvitis, like vaginitis, may be caused by a number of different infections. Because the vulva is also often inflamed when there is inflammation of the vagina, vaginitis is sometimes referred to as vulvovaginitis.
What causes vaginal yeast infections?
Vaginal yeast infections occur when new yeast is introduced into the vaginal area, or when there is an increase in the quantity of yeast already present in the vagina relative to the quantity of normal bacteria. For example, when the normal, protective bacteria are eradicated by antibiotics or by immunosuppressive drugs, the yeast can multiply, invade tissues, and cause irritation of the lining of the vagina (vaginitis).
Vaginal yeast infections can also occur as a result of injury to the inner vagina, such as after chemotherapy. Also, women with suppressed immune systems (for example, medications such as prednisone) develop vaginal yeast infections more frequently than women with normal immunity. Other conditions that may predispose women to developing vaginal yeast infections include diabetes mellitus, pregnancy, and taking oral contraceptives. The use of douches or perfumed vaginal hygiene sprays may also increase a woman’s risk of developing a vaginal yeast infection.
Why did I get a yeast infection?
Many things can raise your risk of a vaginal yeast infection, such as:
• lack of sleep
• poor eating habits, including eating extreme amounts of sugary foods
• having your period
• taking certain medicines, including birth control pills, antibiotics, and steroids
• diseases such as poorly controlled diabetes and HIV/AIDS
• hormonal changes during your periods
Is VYI sexually transmitted?
Yes, but it is rare. Most often, women don’t get yeast infections from sex. The most common cause is a weak immune system.
A vaginal yeast infection is not considered to be a sexually transmitted infection (STD), since Candida may be present in the normal vagina, and the condition does occur in celibate women. However, it is possible for men to develop symptoms of skin irritation of the penis from a yeast infection after sexual intercourse with an infected partner.
What are the symptoms of VYI and vulvitis?
Vaginal yeast infection and vulvitis cause symptoms that are nonspecific. This means that aside from the yeast infection, other conditions can cause the identical symptoms. The most common symptom of a vaginal yeast infection is itching in the vaginal and/or vulvar area. Other symptoms of vaginal yeast infection and vulvitis include (and you may only have a few of these symptoms, mild or severe):
Other symptoms include:
• burning, redness, and swelling of the vagina and the vulva
• pain when passing urine
• pain during sex
• a thick, white vaginal discharge that looks like cottage cheese and does not have a bad smell
• a rash on the vagina
What is the treatment for vaginal yeast infection and vulvitis?
Vaginal yeast infection and vulvitis may be treated, standard treatment, with antifungal medications that are applied topically in and around the vagina or with antifungal medications taken by mouth. Sometimes, mixed infections with more than one microbe can require combinations of treatments.
Topically applied antifungal creams include:
• butoconazole (Femstat 3),
• clotrimazole (Lotrimin),
• miconazole (Monistat), and
• terconazole (Terazol 3).
The over-the-counter topical treatments are an option for some women when yeast is the cause of the infection. However, it should be noted that infections other than yeast can cause similar symptoms. These include bacterial vaginosis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea. If symptoms are not eliminated by over-the-counter products, patients should see their doctor for evaluation.
Oral medications for yeast vaginitis and vulvitis include fluconazole (Diflucan). But do not use fluconazole if you are pregnant. Most doctors prefer to treat vaginal yeast infections with vaginal tablets or suppositories rather than oral medications. Oral antifungal medication can cause side effects such as headache, nausea, and abdominal pain, while vaginal treatment is unlikely to cause these side effects. Oral antifungal medications are also not recommended for use during pregnancy.
This emphasizes the importance of our natural solution. Studies show that two-thirds of women who buy these products don’t really have a yeast infection. Using these medicines the wrong way may lead to a hard-to-treat infection. One of the many advantages of our natural solution is there are no side effects! Precautionary use causes no harm.
How are vaginal yeast infections and vulvitis diagnosed?
To firmly establish the diagnosis, and to rule out any other causes of the symptoms, your doctor may take a specimen scraped from the affected area for microscopic analysis or for culture in the laboratory. Identification of yeast under a microscope, when possible, is the least expensive and most rapid and accurate way to establish the diagnosis.
If yeast is commonly present in normal women, who should be treated?
All women with the symptoms of infection described above should be treated – standard or naturally! Women without symptoms should not be treated unless it is a natural treatment or maintenance program. Most experts do not recommend treating the sex partners of women with yeast vaginitis if they do not have symptoms themselves, although this has been a controversial issue.
What about reoccurring VYI?
In up to 5% of women, yeast vulvovaginitis may cause a recurrent problem. A recurrent yeast infection occurs when a woman has four or more infections in one year that are not related to antibiotic use. Recurrent yeast infections may be related to an underlying medical condition and may require more aggressive treatment.
Should I call my doctor if I think I have a yeast infection?
Yes, you need to see your doctor to find out for sure if you have a yeast infection. The signs of a yeast infection are much like those of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) like Chlamydia (KLUH-mid-ee-uh) and gonorrhea (gahn-uh-REE-uh). This makes it hard to be sure you have a yeast infection and not something more serious. If you’ve had vaginal yeast infections before, talk to your doctor about using our natural treatment.
How can I avoid getting another yeast infection?
To help prevent vaginal yeast infections, you can:
• avoid douches
• avoid scented hygiene products like bubble bath, sprays, pads, and tampons
• change tampons and pads often during your period
• avoid 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
• avoid hot tubs and very hot baths
If you keep getting yeast infections, be sure and talk with your doctor, about our natural prevention.