Though anyone can get a yeast infection it is more common in women and the area usually affected is the vagina. There is bacteria and yeast in the vagina all the time but for reasons looked at below sometimes the yeast outgrows the bacteria and becomes an infection. It is called Candida Albicans and the causes of yeast infection symptoms such as swelling, a thick or cottage cheese like discharge, irritation and itching.
There are several things that can cause this to happen and they include:
- Drugs – Certain medications, in particular antibiotics, are designed to kill bacteria but they do not differentiate good bacteria from bad. Therefore the useful bacteria that works for us by controlling pH balance and keeping an acidic environment which the yeast do not like, are gone. The pH changes and an environment is created in which the yeast are no longer kept under control allowing the yeast to grow. Antibiotics are one of the main causes of yeast infections.
- HRT – Hormone replacement therapy is used for menopausal symptoms but messing with the body’s chemical balance can lead to yeast infections.
- Pregnancy – Another time when your body’s chemical balance is upset.
- Immune system – If your immune system is weak due to another illness like HIV, or weak from a poor diet or other reasons such as medication you are also more at risk from yeast infections.
- Weather – The ideal environment for a yeast infection is warm and damp, so if the weather is humid the yeast can thrive.
- Clothing – Tight and synthetic clothing can lead to sweating and this creates the warm and damp conditions the yeast loves.
- Diabetes – If you have a raised blood sugar level you are more prone as yeast eats sugar.
- Products – Perfumes, soaps, bath salts and oils, scented pads, laundry detergents and softeners can all upset the balance between the bacteria and the yeast. There is also a spermicide nonoxynol-9 that does too.
- Damage – If there is damage to the vaginal tissue, for example from chemotherapy, you are more at risk of yeast infections. If you have been made bed ridden or are in a wheelchair this means the area is always warm and damp.