All About Yeast Infections And Vaginal Itching
How do you know you have an infection? What do you do about it? Is it serious? Will I need a doctor’s consultation? Here’s a quick reference for yeast infections and vaginal itching.
You’re in a prayer meeting, there’s absolute quiet in the room. You’re supposed to be mourning a loss, introspecting – your whole life flashing past your eyes as you realise the transience of life, reflecting, contemplating, making life-changing resolutions. But you cannot stop twisting and squirming in your chair. You want to stick a cactus down there to ease the itch that’s been tormenting you for the longest 15 minutes of your life!
Yeast infections are fairly common, and anyone who has had it knows the almost painful, constant vaginal itch (wait, we can do better…the Vitch!) very well. Perhaps, it’s smelling rather funky down there lately? Sour cheese anyone?
But it’s not right to blame it on the humble yeast, that also makes cakes fluffy and wine dreamy (although they share the same common name, they’re different subspecies).
You could have an infection caused by bacteria or viruses as well. Chemicals in soaps, sprays, or even clothing that come in contact with this area could be irritating the delicate skin and tissues, and causing the discomfort. But broadly, the condition that causes an infection in, or inflammation of the vagina is called Vaginitis.
Now, while vaginitis is not an STD, the associated symptoms (itching, burning, discharge, and foul smell) can be symptoms of an STD too.
And about 15 per cent of men who have intercourse with someone with yeast infection develop the symptoms in a few days – a red rash at the end of the penis, itching, and painful urination.
Image source: https://www.icliniq.com/
Jumping back to the vagina, here’s what can cause Vaginitis:
- Bacterial vaginosis
- Candida or yeast infection
- Viral vaginitis
- Irritants or allergies
How much itching and discharge is normal?
Normally, the vagina makes discharge that's usually clear or slightly cloudy. For most parts, it's how the vagina cleans itself. It shouldn’t really have a foul smell or make you itch like mad.
You should call your doctor when:
- Your vaginal discharge changes colour, is significantly heavier, or smells foul.
- You notice itching, burning, swelling, or soreness around or outside of your vagina.
- It burns when you pee.
- Sex is uncomfortable and painful.
Uh oh. What do I do?
It’s no big deal. Your doctor should be able to take care of it. It is highly advisable to get at least an annual check-up scheduled with your gynaecologist to catch diseases, especially STDs, early on. Some STDs, if left untreated, can permanently damage the reproductive organs, and will get passed on to your partner.
Some women are more prone to yeast or bacterial infections, due to a disturbance in the ecology of microbes present in their reproductive tract during menopause, because of hormonal changes. The key to treating vaginal infections effectively is getting the right diagnosis. Proactively notice the colour, texture, smell, and amount of discharge. Some doctors will ask you to not have sex during the 24-48 hours before your appointment.
Non-infectious vaginitis (usually allergies or mild irritations) can be handled by dealing with the probable cause. Evaluate all the products that you're using, because maybe they’re irritating your sensitive skin. For hormonal changes, your doctor will prescribe oestrogen supplements to ease the symptoms.