How common are yeast infections?
Yeast infections are caused by a yeast fungus called candida. Most yeast infections can be cured within two weeks with over-the-counter medication. Treating a yeast infection while pregnant can take longer because your medication options are more limited.
What is a yeast infection?
Yeast infections are caused by a yeast fungus called candida. Candida normally lives on the skin and in the mouth, digestive system and vagina. It usually doesn’t cause any harm. It’s part of your natural chemical balance.
You can get a yeast infection when something causes that balance to change. The yeast grows and multiplies rapidly and you start having symptoms of an infection.
Symptoms of a vaginal yeast infection include:
- Odorless white vaginal discharge with a cottage cheese-like consistency
- Irritated and itchy on the outer portion of the vagina, or vulva
- Pain or discomfort during sexual intercourse
- Pain while urinating
Vaginal yeast infections are common during pregnancy. You’re significantly more likely to get one while pregnant due to rising estrogen levels. These hormonal changes cause an environment where the candida yeast can flourish.
You can also get a yeast infection from:
- Your period
- Douching or using perfumed vaginal sprays
- Sexual intercourse
- Birth control pills
Diagnosing a yeast infection
If this is the first time you’re experiencing symptoms of a yeast infection, you should talk to your doctor. They may perform a pelvic exam and take a test swab which will be tested for the fungi. This is also done to rule out other possibilities like other infections or sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
Several other vaginal infections can present symptoms similar to that of a yeast infection
Getting rid of a yeast infection while pregnant
You can buy over-the-counter medications to relieve the symptoms of a yeast infection while pregnant. However, you should first confirm with a physician that the symptoms you’re experiencing are in fact due to a yeast infection.
Medication for yeast infections
Most yeast infections can be cured within two weeks with over-the-counter medication. Treating a yeast infection while pregnant can take longer because your medication options are more limited.
Oral medications to treat vaginal yeast infections aren’t recommended when you’re pregnant.
When you’re pregnant, you can safely use cream and ointments containing:
The ointment is applied directly on the affected area.
If you’re fighting a yeast infection, taking these precautions will help promote a fast recovery and avoid reinfection.
- Wear cotton underwear. Candida fungus thrives in damp environments, so it’s important to keep yourself as dry as possible. Cotton is breathable and helps avoid sweating.
- Don’t use scented soaps or feminine hygiene sprays ‘down there’. Scented products can mess with your vagina’s delicate pH balance.
- Wipe from front to back. Don’t help bacteria travel to your vagina.
- Change out of damp clothes right away. Staying in wet swimsuits or gym clothes for too long can promote fungus growth.
Yeast infections happen when your bacterial balance is off. Eating foods rich in probiotics such as yogurt can help restore the balance.
You should consult your doctor before introducing new foods to your diet while pregnant.
Possible complications of a yeast infection while pregnant
If you have a vaginal yeast infection when you give birth, the baby can catch it. When the baby passes through the birth canal, it comes into contact with all the yeast fungi.
You can usually see symptoms of an oral yeast infection in infants by looking in their mouth. White, pillowy sores can be found on the tongue and inside the cheeks of infants infected with yeast fungi, also known as oral thrush.
This can cause issues, especially if the infant is breastfed. Oral thrush can cause your baby to resist feeding due to pain in the mouth. They can also spread it to the mother, causing extreme discomfort and pain in the nipples and breasts.
While uncomplicated oral thrush in infants is relatively common and easy to treat, it can be difficult to totally eliminate the fungus. That’s because the mother and infant can reinfect each other if one still carries the fungus, even after taking medication.