Vaginal Yeast Infections During Pregnancy
Yeast infections are caused by a group of fungi known as Candida, the most common being Candida Albicans. Candida flourishes in moist warm areas of the body and an overgrowth leads to an infection with several unpleasant symptoms. When you are pregnant, it is no uncommon to suffer from yeast infections. Though such infections have no lasting effects on you or your baby, they may take longer to treat and control due to the restrictions on the use of medications during pregnancy.
What Causes Yeast Infection in Pregnancy
Pregnancy And Baby Care Questions
A yeast infection may be caused by any of the following reasons:
- Hormonal changes brought about by your pregnancy
- Any form of hormonal treatment (such as birth control pills)
- Certain medications such as antibiotics or steroids
- Diabetes and high blood sugar
- Vaginal intercourse
When you are pregnant, your body is going through so many changes what with the constant fluctuations in hormone and chemical levels. During pregnancy, vaginal secretions also contain more sugar causing an imbalance and overgrowth of fungus. This makes yeast infections during pregnancy a common complain.
What Are the Symptoms?
Symptoms of a yeast infection may vary in severity from person to person. They may also come and go during a flare up. Most infections continue to worsen until the infection is treated. Signs of a yeast infection include:
- Itchiness of the vagina and labia
- Soreness and burning sensation of the genital area
- Redness around the vagina
- Swelling of the labia
- Excessive vaginal discharge
- A creamy white vaginal discharge that may also have the consistency of cottage cheese
- In most cases vaginal discharge is odorless but it could also smell of yeast
- Burning sensation when you urinate
- Painful intercourse
If you suspect you may have a yeast infection, consult your doctor as soon as possible. To confirm the diagnosis, a sample of the vaginal discharge may be needed. How Yeast Infections Can Affect the Baby
In the first and second trimester, a yeast infection does not hurt or affect your baby. If you develop an infection just before delivery, there may be a chance that the baby will contract the same as he passes through the birth canal. In such cases, infants may develop a yeast infection of the mouth known as thrush.
How to Treat a Yeast Infection
There are several different ways to treat a yeast infection. During a pregnancy, the best treatments include home remedies and natural cures that have no side effects on your health or the safety of your baby. However, depending on the stage of your pregnancy and the extent of the infection, your doctor may prescribe some medications as well. Irrespective of whether you resort to natural remedies or medications, you must consult your doctor or midwife if you suspect you have a yeast infection when you are pregnant. Some ways to treat a yeast infection during pregnancy include:
- Anti-fungal medications: Since yeast is a fungus, such infections generally respond well to anti-fungal creams, tablets or suppositories. While vaginal creams to treat yeast infections are available over the counter, it is better to consult with your doctor before treating yourself. If symptoms do not reduce with a topical cream or suppository, your doctor may prescribe oral medications but this is rare. On the whole oral anti-fungal medications are avoided during pregnancy due to their side effects such as nausea, abdominal pain and headaches.
- Dietary changes: If you suffer from recurring yeast infections, your diet may be the culprit. Speak to your doctor or dietician about an anti-candida diet that is specially designed keeping your pregnancy in mind. A typical anti-Candida diet should include foods such as fresh vegetables, nuts, and seeds. Whole grains, brown rice and oats can be had in moderation. You should completely avoid foods high in sugar or artificial sweeteners, packaged and ready to eat meals, most sauces and condiments and foods that contain yeast such as breads, mushrooms, fermented pickles and the like.
- Herbal treatments: Certain herbal remedies may help reduce unpleasant symptoms of a yeast infection. For example, a few drops of tea tree oil mixed in your bath water can provide relief from itching and inflammation of the vaginal area. Grapefruit seed extract may also help reduce pain and prevent recurring infections. You can also soothe itching and irritation by applying a cold compress to the area.
Preventing Yeast Infections during Pregnancy
It can take slightly longer than normal for a yeast infection to completely clear up when you are pregnant.
After the inflammation dies down and the area has healed, your doctor may recommend using a drying powder to prevent a recurring infection. In order to prevent further infections you should:
- Wear cotton underwear and loose clothes that prevent excessive sweating and build up of moisture
- Keep the genital area clean and dry at all times
- When you have a bowel movement, always wipe from front to back only
- If you swim, always change out of a wet suit as soon as possible
- Never use a douche or other feminine hygiene products as these can interfere with the natural balance of the vagina
- Avoid scented products such as bubble baths, deodorants and toilet paper
Yeast Infection during Pregnancy