Yeast Infection During Pregnancy
Due to your body’s hormonal changes, yeast infection is very common during pregnancy. This infection is likely to occur during the second trimester of your pregnancy. Read on to learn more about this condition.
Yeast infection is also known as candida vaginitis or vulvovaginal candidiasis. This infection is usually caused by the Candida albicans fungus. While yeast infection is commonly understood as a form of vaginal infection, yeast infections may also occur in the mouth or skin.
During pregnancy, yeast infection may cause discomfort for you and may be difficult to control. Certain symptoms of yeast infection may be identical to the symptoms of other vaginal infections or sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Hence, it is beneficial to promptly consult your doctor upon discovering such symptoms.
Increased levels of estrogen and progesterone during pregnancy facilitate the growth of the Candida albicans fungus in the vagina. Yeast thrives in warm and moist environments. Apart from that, the natural pH in the vagina can be disrupted by antibiotics as well as sexual intercourse, causing an overgrowth of yeast. There is also more sugar in your vaginal secretions when you are pregnant and as yeast feeds on sugar, this accelerates the growth of fungus.
“Yeast infection can be caused by many reasons,” says Dr. Raja Juhaidah Raja Abdullah, Consultant Obstetrician & Gynecologist M.D (USM), M.Med (O&G) (UKM). “Among them are hormonal changes during pregnancy, taking birth control pills, antibiotics or steroids, diabetes, sexual intercourse as well as douching.”
The symptoms of yeast infection can appear in different ways. Most commonly they come up as:
- Vaginal discharge: Profuse amounts of thick or slightly watery, chunky whitish-yellow discharge, similar to cottage cheese, which may smell like yeast or bread
- Changes to the lips of the vagina: Redness, swelling, irritation, itching or burning sensations
- Urination discomfort: Painful or burning sensation
- Vaginal sex discomfort: Painful or burning sensation
Treatments for yeast infections are readily available. However, when you are pregnant or nursing, doctors will only prescribe suppositories or vaginal creams, which are safer treatment options. The oral medication, Diflucan (commonly used to treat yeast infection), is not proven safe for pregnant women or lactating women.
“Vaginal yeast infections can be treated with antifungal medicines that are inserted directly into the vagina in the form of tablets, creams, ointments or suppositories,” says Dr. Raja. “This will lessen the itchy sensation and the infection will usually subside after one week. You can also ask your doctor for creams that help to relieve the pain and burning sensation around your vagina.”
Take note though: if you leave yeast infection untreated, it may affect your baby. During delivery, yeast infections can pass to your baby’s mouth which results in an infection called thrush.
It is also important to take steps to prevent yeast infection. Start by maintaining good vaginal hygiene. Do not use scented feminine hygiene sprays, sanitary pads or bubble bath. Wear cotton underwear, which can absorb discharge and allow air circulation. With a combination of cotton underwear and loose, breathable clothing, this will prevent the vaginal area from getting warm and moist which will lead to yeast growth.
Apart from that, limit sugar intake and eat yoghurt that contains lactobacillus acidophilus. Stay hydrated to flush out toxins and urinate regularly to eliminate infection-causing bacteria. Wipe from the front to back, after urinating. Also, do not use scented toilet paper.
To test for yeast infection, your doctor will use a cotton swab to collect a sample of your discharge. The sample is then examined under the microscope to determine if there is presence of the Candida albicans fungus.
DID YOU KNOW?
The lactobacillus acidophilus is a probiotic found naturally in yoghurt. This probiotic facilitates good digestion and prevents vaginal infections.