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Vaginal candidiasis in pregnancy: Symptoms and Treatment

You might be unaware of the fact that different microorganisms live in your intimate area and keep it healthy and clean. Your vagina provides the best environment for good bacteria and yeast so that they work together in harmony. They play an important housekeeping role of cleaning out all the bad bacteria from your reproductive system through a thick, white discharge.

A study reveals that normally women have about 20{14b1031694aec2b3166be54b9be3e3e63eee46ecc3b98eea28f6d2b91027c075} of the yeast Candida in their vagina. During pregnancy, the percentage increases up to 30{14b1031694aec2b3166be54b9be3e3e63eee46ecc3b98eea28f6d2b91027c075} which creates an imbalance and makes the vagina prone to various infections. One such infection is Vaginal Candidiasis, named after the yeast Candida. This is not a life-threatening situation but the risk of the infection getting transferred to the baby remains. Hence, doctors recommend getting treatment as soon as possible!

Factors That Make Expecting Moms Prone To These Infections

The good bacteria and yeast work in coordination as ‘gatekeepers’ to keep various disorders out of the doors. When the number of fungi is increased from the optimum level, the door is opened to various infections. The common factors that can make you likely to get this infection include-

  • Hormonal changes that come with pregnancy
  • Use of birth control pills, antibiotics or corticosteroids
  • Disorders than weakens your immune system
  • Diabetes
  • Vaginal intercourse
  • douching
  • Pregnancy

During pregnancy, an environment is created that makes it more favorable for the yeast to grow. This is created due to higher secretions of glycogen and estrogen. Therefore, if you are an expecting mother or know someone who is pregnant, then let them know that they are more susceptible to getting these infections.

Signs and symptoms of Candidiasis

After you have developed the infection, you’ll have itching in your vagina and around the vulva. In addition to this, you’ll have a white vaginal discharge which is similar to cottage cheese and is odorless.

Some of the other symptoms are-

  • An increase in discharge
  • Pain in the vagina or around the vulva
  • Soreness in the vagina or around the vulva
  • While urinating, you’ll have a burning sensation
  • Rash on the vulva and the skin around it

Don’t worry if these symptoms last for a few days or weeks as these are completely harmless.

Complications that can arise from yeast infections

There is no reason to get worked up if you or someone you know have developed a yeast infection as they don’t cause any adverse effects on the mother’s health. But it is very common if you pass the infection to the baby during childbirth.

Newborn babies develop the infection either in the mouth or diaper area. This is not a serious condition but can become serious as the immune systems of babies not fully well-developed. This affects breathing and heart rhythm in the infants. 

Vaginal Thrush

If you don’t take immediate medical help from the doctor if you feel any of the above-mentioned symptoms then your child can suffer from thrush. Although this is a mild infection without any serious health effects, it can cause serious complications in people with weak immune systems.

The infection causes white or yellowish bumps to form on the inner cheeks and tongue. 

Diagnosis for yeast infections

The doctor will perform a pelvic exam in addition to asking about the symptoms. Your gynecologist will use a cotton swab to test a sample of the vaginal discharge to confirm the diagnosis.

Treatment for yeast infections during pregnancy

After the thorough diagnosis especially during pregnancy, the doctor will give you an antifungal cream or suppository during pregnancy. But it is best if you first discuss with the doctor before using one as these can cause complications during the pregnancy.

The whole procedure takes 10-14 days to provide relief and completely cure the infection. The problem with a yeast infection is that it is recurrent which means that you are likely to develop them again if you have already suffered from one.  To prevent the occurrence of the infection once again, use a starch-free drying powder or Nystatin powder.

Treatment for yeast infections under normal circumstances

  • Greek Yogurt- Studies reveal that yogurt is essential in curing these infections as these contain live bacteria. They help in the production of good bacteria which helps to restore the balance of bacteria and yeast around the vagina.
  • Boric acid-  It is considered useful for treating yeast infections that can be cured by other remedies. It is also beneficial for women who suffer from this infection regularly.
  • Oregano essential oil- The oil contains thymol and carvacrol which are powerful antifungals.
  • Coconut oil is known for its benefits including antifungal properties. It can be applied both internally or externally directly to the vagina to get relief from the symptoms.
  • Tea Tree oil- This is very helpful in maintaining a healthy balance of flora. It is an essential oil that is used to kill fungi, bacteria and viruses.
  • Apple cider vinegar- The acidity of the vinegar will help you eliminate harmful microorganisms.
  • Garlic- Considered as an antifungal and antibiotic, studies show that garlic can be effective for killing the yeast near the vagina.
  • Hydrogen peroxide- This is a bacteria and yeast-killing antiseptic. But you should remember that this doesn’t work on every species of yeast.
  • Vitamin C- In tablet forms, Vitamin C has antimicrobial components which some women use it to kill the overgrowth.

Step by Step Care For Healthy Vagina

It is better to prevent the problem rather than finding a cure for one. So try these preventive measures to keep the problem miles away-

  • Avoid using scented soap or sprays from the vagina
  • Don’t douche as this can upset the pH balance of your vagina
  • Wear cotton undergarments to keep your vagina dry and so that it is able to “breathe”.
  • Do Kegel exercises
  • Stop smoking
  • Limit consumption of alcohol

Vaginal Candidiasis causes symptoms that are similar to other infections. Symptoms that are caused by other conditions include-

  • An allergic reaction to a soap or condom that you’ve used in the vaginal area
  • Sexually transmitted diseases such as chlamydia and gonorrhea
  • Bacterial vaginosis

It can happen that the infection you are suffering from might not be caused by yeast but some other factor. So it is vital that you seek medical help as soon as possible so that you get the most effective, and most appropriate treatment or the condition will persist. This is will keep interfering with your beautiful journey of motherhood.