The top ten things you should know about vaginal infections
1. Did you know this odd fact about simple vaginal infections: feeling cured isn't always the same as being cured!
2. We call them vaginal infections, but they may also infect other body parts! Yeast infections are typically of both the vaginal tissues or the vulvar tissues. They may infect the lower rectum, but they do not affect the uterus or the cervix.
3. Testing positive for an organism is thought of as 'infected', but really that term just applies to those who have symptoms of infection.
4. The cause of yeast infection is an overgrowth of the fungal organism candida, and the 'cure' from a patient perspective and a gyno perspective are different. From a patient perspective the itching, order, and discharge resolution is their goal. From a gyno perspective the goal is to restore vaginal health. The tissues must be healed, the pH must be normal, the healthy bacteria that produce lactic acid and keep that pH normal, must be growing in normal numbers.
5. Vaginal yeast infections are typically mild, in that their symptoms are tolerated, so the patient may think she is cured when her symptoms quickly respond to over the counter medications, and often will resolve to a tolerable level without treatment at all. However, when the symptoms are persistent, complicated by other vaginal conditions, or at times of travel or date night, a yest infection is not tolerated well by very many women, and you may experience fairly severe symptoms!
6. Testing is important to restore vaginal health, and to restore one's hormone balance.
7. Improving nutrition can actually all help in the actual cure of a yeast infection.
8. Some infections won't resolve until hormone balance is resolved. In women the changes in estrogen, testosterone, DHEA, progesterone, and the other hormones of the menstrual cycle, can result in fluctuations in the vaginal health as well. For those in menopause with extremely low levels of these hormones they can suffer from
the genitourinary syndrome of menopause (GSM), including the chronic condition of vulvovaginal atrophy (VVA). The atrophy rises the vaginal pH and the cells of the lining of the uterus lose the ability to produce the glycogen food supply for the healthy vaginal bacteria. Thus yeast infections are more likely to occur, and the infections are less likely to ever resolve on their own as the vaginal environment looses it's ability to fight infections. With the vaginal changes of the GSM and VVA, the symptoms begin to increase including vaginal dryness, irritation, itching, infection, painful sex, lack of arousal, lack of being able to maintain arousal, as well the propensity to have chronic and low grade yeast infections.
9. It's important that if you have menopausal changes, don't assume that self treatment has produced a cure, you need to be evaluated by a gyno. Because the sexual consequences of an uncured or chronic form of yeast infections are so important, the sexual side effects can include diminished physical and emotional sexual satisfaction, and relationship issues.
10. Thus yeast infections in menopause can progress from an annoyance to a significant medical issue. Just treating the fungal infection itself will not always resolve the issue. Restoring vaginal health with better nutrition, appropriate restoration of your gut microbiome, your immune system, the healthy use of pH balanced lubricants, and treatments of the menopausal state such as with Osphena, estrogen, PRP, or MonaLisa Touch Therapy. Come in to gab with your gyno to see if you are doing all you can to prevent yeast infections in the future.