Between the burning, itching, and the icky discharge, a yeast infection can be a total pain in the, well, vagina. This type of infection can be pretty TMI (too much information) and a little embarrassing, too, and if its’ recurrent, it can feel a lot worse. Add to that the fact that there are naturally more than 20 different species of yeasts in your body right now that can cause an infection.
Want to protect yourself? Read up for some of the facts you need to know about yeast infections.
1. It can affect women of any age.
You don’t have to be an adult to get a yeast infection. It affects women of any age—but it’s rare before puberty and after menopause. Contrary to what you might think, most yeast infections are the result of immune system deficiencies and not contracted from having sex. Some of the other causes include stress, poor diet, lack of sleep, certain medications (e.g., antibiotics), and pregnancy.
2. It is not the most common vaginal infection.
That honor goes to bacterial Vaginosis or BV. This type of infection is caused by an overgrowth of bacteria, not yeast, in the vagina. Much like a yeast infection, this occurs when the pH levels in your vagina are out of whack. If you try to treat it by yourself using over the counter treatments and find that your symptoms persist, check in with your OB.
3. Your poop can cause you to get a yeast infection.
Yep, I wish I was kidding. According to Jason James, M.D., a board-certified ob-gyn in the United States, Candida organisms (fungus that causes yeast infection) can set up shop in the rectum. That means when you poop, it’s possible for them to migrate to the vagina. You can decrease Candida in your rectum by eating probiotics and practicing good hygiene.
4. It can be a sign of diabetes.
According to the Mayo Clinic, women with high blood sugar levels have a higher risk of developing yeast infections. When the blood sugar levels in your body are high, the excess sugar, in particular, is often responsible for yeast growth and repeat infections. If you get more than three yeast infections in a year, talk to your doctor to rule out diabetes or other serious health conditions.
5. You’re more likely to get it if you eat lots of rice and pasta.
Candida is naturally found in the digestive tract. How much of the fungus you have, however, depends on your eating habits. In a 2013 study published in the PLOS One journal, researchers found that those who ate more carbs are more susceptible to yeast infections than people who eat more amino acids, proteins, and fatty acids.
6. Guys get them too.
Men can also get yeast infections if they have unprotected sex with an infected woman. In men, yeast infections manifest themselves through itching and burning and a possible rash or redness on the penis. Over-the-counter treatments can take care of the problem, but it’s always best to check with a doctor.
7. You Become Resistant to Treatment
Buying and using an over the counter treatment for yeast infection can make your body resistant to the treatment.
That means it will be more difficult to fight a legit yeast infection in the future.
Again, it’s always important to consult with your OB if you think you have a yeast infection.
A yeast infection is not deadly, but leaving it untreated can be extremely itchy and harm your health. As embarrassing as you might think it is, talk to a health professional if you’re showing signs of yeast infection.
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Dyan is a 25-year-old writer with a sense of humor of a prepubescent male. On weekends, she hibernates.