The World of Pregnancy

What Happens if a Yeast Infection Goes Untreated?

A yeast infection defines as an infection produced by fungi that usually live in the vagina. In case of fungal vaginal infections, the scientific term is Candida, and the most frequent type of yeast infection is Candida albicans. It`s estimated that around 20% – 50% from healthy women will develop vaginal candiadiasis in time.

Vaginitis is an inflammation of the vagina. It`s a very common disease (more than 75% of women may experience this infection at one time in their lives).

Vaginitis may be caused by a series of infections, but can also have non-infectious causes (chemical irritation and trauma of the vaginal mucosa). Infectious vaginitis has numerous causes, including bacteria (Gardnerella and Gonorrhea), protozoans (Trichomonas) and fungi (Candida).

The most common form of infectious vaginitis is vaginal candiadiasis.

In What Conditions Is Yeast Infection (Vaginal Candiadiasis) Produced?

Some fungal strains are normally found in normal flora, the body`s saprophytic (the skin, mouth and vagina). In some conditions, these strains might become pathogenic and may cause vaginal candiadiasis.

The vagina is protected from infections by lactobacillus. The destruction of the flora by lactic acid bacillus is responsible for most cases of inflammation of the vagina, but also for the transformation of some saprophytic infectious agents in pathogens.

Diminishing the protective roles of lactobacillus may produce in case of:

  • Administration of antibiotics (taken to treat a urinary tract infection, respiratory or other types of infections).
  • Immunosuppressives.
  • After chemotherapy.
  • Women with weak immune system.
  • Women with diabetes.
  • Pregnant women.
  • Women who take birth control pills.

Also, using vaginal washes with chemical content or local usage of scented sprays may increase the risk of developing vaginal candiadiasis.

An infection with Candida albicans isn`t considered a sexually transmitted disease (STD), because Candida may be present in the vagina naturally, and the conditions outlined above may lead to infections in single women as well. Still, vaginal candiadiasis is possible to appear in both men and women after a sexual contact with an infected partner.

How Does a Yeast Infection Manifest? When Do We Visit the Doctor?

The symptoms of a yeast infection (vaginal candiadiasis) are sometimes non-specific, which means that in other cases there may be similar events as well. The most common sign is the sensation of vulvar and/or vaginal itching.

Other symptoms are:

  • Local burning.
  • Local pain.
  • Pain during sex.
  • Vaginal discharges (they aren`t present in all cases, and when they appear, they are odorless, whitish, thick and with a cheesy texture).

In 5% of cases of vaginal candiadiasis are recurrent. A recurrent infection is produced when a woman shows several infections of the same type, even if proper treatment was performed. This situation may appear in case the exact cause that favors the infection was identified.

Another cause for recurrent infections may be an untreated partner which may be a healthy carrier of the infection and may spread it by sexual contact.

Can a Yeast Infection Go Away on its Own?

If a yeast infection is left untreated, it may clear up on its own, most of the times by menstruation. Menstrual blood will raise the vagina pH, which in turn will cause the yeast cell number to decrease as they aren`t able to develop in this pH during menstruation. A recurring yeast infection might be hard to prevent or cure though.

What Can Happen if a Bacterial Infection Goes Untreated?

For example, even though bacterial Vaginosis doesn`t generally lead to other health issues, if left untreated, it might increase the risk of STD such as Chlamydia, herpes, HIV, gonorrhea or pelvic inflammatory disease where bacterial vaginosis will infect the fallopian tubes or uterus.

Can a Yeast Infection Cause Permanent Damage?

If a yeast infection is left untreated, it cannot cause any consequences on long term, like scarring or infertility. Although they may become rather uncomfortable and may lead to burning or discharge, they won`t lead to any permanent damage.

Can You Die if You Have a Yeast Infection?

In rare occasions, a yeast infection might spread throughout the entire organism. For example, when systemic candidal disease is involved, up to 45% of patients end up dying (in this case, the fungus will enter the bloodstream and then will spread throughout the entire organism). Sometimes, a vaginal or mouth yeast infection may lead to critical illness and may be much more resistant to any normal treatments.

Help the Doctor Put a Correct Diagnosis!

To confirm a diagnosis of vaginal candiadiasis (even if the above signs are present), the doctor will recommend further analysis of vaginal discharges. They are harvested in gynecology clinics and will be analyzed by microscopy or by performing cultures in a lab.

For the result of the exam to be correct, there should be no intravaginal washes 24 hours in advance not even just with water and sexual contact is forbidden. An intimate hygiene of the external genital organs may be performed only with water and soap.

What Can Be Done at Home?

Don`t use chemicals or scented personal hygiene products, don`t perform any intravaginal washes with bicarbonate solutions or chamomile tea. All this leads to a disruption of the normal vaginal flora and favors the transformation of potential pathogenic saprophytic strains.

Before using underwear, it`s sterilized by boiling (this principle is valid for new underwear as well).

To avoid any kind of yeast infection, you should perform a correct intimate hygiene on the external organs with soap and water, at least once a day. Each member of the family should use a personal bath towel. The toilet and bathtub requires daily disinfectant with antiseptic.

Be careful to transmission of fungal infections from an infected mother to her daughter by sharing a bath towel, toilet bowl or bathtub poorly disinfected after use.

Information on for Yeast Infections

A yeast infection may be treated with antifungal medications which are applied locally within and around the vagina or with oral antifungal drugs. Sometimes, mixed infections, with more than one microbe, may require combinations of treatments.

Don`t perform this type of treatments without consulting yourself with your doctor and don`t refuse laboratory analyzes. You should keep in mind that other infections than Candida may cause similar signs. They may include bacterial vaginosis, Chlamydia, gonorrhea, etc.

Most doctors prefer pessaries or vaginal tablets to treat vaginal yeast infections, rather than oral medications. Oral antifungal medications may cause side effects, such as headache, nausea, abdominal pain, while vaginal local treatments doesn`t present these side effects. Oral antifungal treatment isn`t recommended during pregnancy.

Important!

Don`t forget that in case of infections with fungi, it`s important to identify the cause that favored their appearances to prevent recurrent infections.

The sexual partners, even if he/she doesn`t present any specific symptoms of the infection, should benefit of proper treatment because it may be a healthy carrier of the infection and may transmit the disease.

 

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