Vaginal yeast infection, also known as Candidiasis is a common condition in women caused by the fungus Candida Albicans. It is so common that approximately 3 out of every 4 women experience vaginal yeast infection at some point in their lives. Although, the fungus Candida is naturally present in the vaginal flora or around 50% women, problem arises when the acid balance of the vagina changes due to illness, pregnancy or menstruation which promotes the growth of the Candida fungus leading to a yeast infection.
While getting yeast infection once in a while does not affect a woman’s fertility or chances of pregnancy, but chronic or recurrent yeast infection may affect your chances of getting pregnant indirectly. But thankfully, most cases of yeast infection can be treated with over-the-counter anti-fungal ointments and prescriptions drugs such as fluconazole or itraconazole.
What is a Yeast Infection?
Yeast infection is caused by a specific kind of fungus called Candida albicans. The Candida genus of fungus is naturally present in the vaginal microflora, but its overgrowth is kept in check by the lactobacillus strain of bacteria. But an imbalance in the acidic balance of the vagina due to consumption of antibiotics, pregnancy, diabetes, menstruation, emotional stress or lack of sleep renders the bacteria ineffective and leads to an overgrowth of yeast which turns into a yeast infection. Vaginal yeast infection is characterized by mild to severe itching and burning of the vulva, swelling of the vulva, cracks or fissures in the vulva, thick whitish discharge from the vagina and pain and burning sensation during and after sexual intercourse.
Can Vaginal Yeast Infection Affect Fertility?
Although, there is no evidence to suggest that vaginal yeast infection has any impact on fertility but there are a number of reasons why it is best to abstain from trying to get pregnant until the infection is healed completely.
1) Vaginal yeast infection is extremely irritating and painful. All that itching, burning and soreness does not create the mood for sexual intercourse.
2) Recurrent vaginal yeast infections chances the balance of the internal vaginal flora which in turn alters the consistency of the cervical mucus and makes it harder for the sperm to survive and make its way to the uterus.
3) If vaginal yeast infection is not treated and cured before the birth of the baby, then the infection might pass on to the newborn baby in the form of oral thrush.
Studies on Candida and Fertility
There are a few studies which draw a link between Candida yeast infection and increased risk of infertility.
1) A 1977 study conducted on human sperm shows that the sperms that were exposed to the Candida albicans fungus had significantly reduced mobility. This shows that the presence of Candida albicans fungus in the vagina can pose an immobilizing effect on sperm.
2) Another study conducted in 2007 found that the presence of Candida albicans fungus in the male genital tract can also be a cause of male infertility.
3) In a study conducted in 2015, the researchers had injected Candida albicans to the vagina of female mice and then compared their fertility rates with a group of mice without Candida colonization. It was seen that there was a 100% fall in fertility rate in the mice injected with Candida albicans.
How to Treat Vaginal Yeast Infection?
The good news is that you can easily cure yeast infection by using over-the-counter antifungal ointments, oral medications and natural home remedies.
A doctor usually prescribes a 1 to 3 day regime of a topical antifungal cream, ointment or suppository such as butoconazole (Gynazole), miconazole (Lotrimin) or terconazole (Terazol) along with a single dose of oral medication such as fluconazole (Diflucan).
Most cases of simple infection heal within a week but the patient should make a follow up visit to the doctor to make sure the infection is completely cured.
There are certain types of complicated Candida infections that don’t respond to normal treatment. They call for a more aggressive treatment.
In such cases the doctor may prescribe a 14-day treatment course that includes ointment, tablet or suppository along with 2 to 3 doses of fluconazole (Diflucan).
The doctor may also treat the other sexual partner for yeast infection.
One can also treat vaginal yeast infection with home remedies such as:
Tea tree oil sitz bath – Add 10 drops of tea tree oil to bath water and uses it for sitz bath.
Apple Cider Vinegar Wash – Raw unfiltered organic apple cider vinegar diluted with water to wash the vaginal area.
Yogurt Treatment – Take plain yogurt and apply it inside and all around your vaginal area, leave it for 5 minutes and then wash off with water. One should also include organic yogurt in the diet.
How to Prevent Vaginal Yeast Infection?
In many cases, women know the exact reason why they experience these bouts of yeast infection. Recognizing these risk factors is one of the best ways to prevent future infections. Here are a few ways in which you can avoid Candida overgrowth:
- Don’t wear tight-fitting pants, leggings or panties; wear loose and comfortable inner wear and bottom wear instead.
- Opt for natural, breathable fabrics such as cotton, slink or linen.
- Don’t use deodorants or scented tampons or pads.
- Don’t use perfumed shower gels or soaps to wash your vaginal area, washing with lukewarm water in good enough.
- Avoid douching as much as possible.
- Change into dry clothes immediately after a swim. Don’t sit around in wet bathing suits or bikini.
- Try to avoid public hot tub baths, swimming pools and jacuzzis.
- Wash your underwear in hot water.
- Limit the use of antibiotic medications.
- Abstain from sexual intercourse with your partner if he is suffering from a yeast infection.
- Follow a healthy and balanced diet and limit the intake of sugar.
- Eat more probiotics-rich foods such as yogurt that contains lactobacillus strain of bacteria.
Although, it is very much possible to get pregnant while having a yeast infection, but having a healthy body during conception is important to ensure that you have a successful pregnancy and a healthy baby. So, if you and your partner are trying to conceive, then it is best to wait till the infection is fully cleared in order to avoid all the stress and future complications and ensure a safe pregnancy.