When you are pregnant, your hormones start to get wild. These hormones are responsible for an increase in vaginal discharge that makes the environment down there to be moister and a good breeding ground for microorganisms such as yeast, leading to infection.
What Is A Yeast Infection?
Yeast infections in pregnancy are the most common type of complication that takes place in the vagina. Since the vagina is always moist from the discharges caused by certain pregnancy hormones, yeasts multiply faster because of the environment. For vaginal yeast infections in pregnant women, the most common is the monilial vaginitis or the vaginal candidiasis. Vaginal candidiasis is caused by the fungi, Candida albicans.
Yeast are normally found in our bodies, and they only become a problem when they start to multiply faster than normal. Increase in the ability to multiply these yeasts disrupts the body’s defenses thereby leading to infection.
What Causes A Yeast Infection in Pregnancy?
Estrogen, a hormone naturally found in a women’s body, increases in level when the woman is pregnant. Since the estrogen in the female’s body is elevated during pregnancy, the body produces more glycogen. Glycogen is a form of sugar that provides certain organisms with energy such as fungi and bacteria. Since yeast is a type of fungi, it feeds on glycogen. When a woman is pregnant, her body produces more glycogen and the moisture or discharge in her vaginal area increases as well, making it a good breeding ground for fungi (yeast).
What Are the Symptoms of Vaginal Yeast Infection?
Vaginal yeast infection should not be mistaken for the typical discharges down there. Below are the signs and symptoms that you should note and tell your physician immediately:
- Burning sensation when urinating.
- Itchy, swollen, and irritated areas in the vagina including the labia.
- Vaginal discharge that is creamy, white in color similarly to that of the appearance of cottage cheese. The discharge is usually odorless.
- Pain or discomfort during sexual contact.
Keep in mind, however, that yeast infections tend to go away on their own. If you feel as if you have been experiencing these symptoms for a very long time now, it is best to consult a doctor. Also, if your discharge smells musty, it is best to seek professional help immediately.
Can a Yeast Infection Affect My Baby?
Normally, a yeast infection does not affect your baby. However, if you have acquired the infection a few days BEFORE your delivery, chances are your baby might contract it as he or she passes through your vagina and out of your body. If ever the baby gets in contact with the yeast infection, chances of developing an infection around the mouth called thrush is certain for your baby.
How Do I Prevent Myself from Developing Such Infection?
Good hygiene is probably the best answer and best solution to avoid acquiring a yeast infection around your vaginal area.
Below are some measures that you can take to further prevent developing a yeast infection:
- Wash your perineal area from front to back to avoid infection. Washing regularly also gets rid of bacteria around the area.
- Wear cotton underwear. Tight, moist, and dark places are what bacteria wants as their breeding grounds. You can alleviate this incident by wearing a breathable cotton underwear to allow circulation.
- Avoid using feminine washes that are highly scented to avoid further irritation.
- Warm water is sometimes enough to clean your vaginal area. Remember, vaginas have their own ability to clean themselves at regular intervals.
What Are the Treatment Options for a Yeast Infection?
While most yeast infections go away after a number of days, your physician might recommend you to have a medication therapy. Some doctors may prescribe creams or suppository as long as they are safe enough to be used during pregnancy. Treatments sometimes last up to seven days before you can see healing or improvements.
When Should I See My Doctor?
You should see your doctor the moment you feel that something is not right with your current health condition. As long as you have felt the signs and symptoms mentioned above, we suggest that you seek help from your primary healthcare provider as soon as you can. Yeast infections tend to go away on their own, but it is better to ask your doctor for management to prevent further complications.
To diagnose the infection, expect that your doctor may run a few laboratory tests to figure out the microorganism involved in order to prescribed the proper antibiotics or antibacterial medications that you can take to cure the infection.
As yeast infections are common during pregnancy, it is still favorable that you stay healthy all throughout the period of your gestation. This is to ensure that you and your baby have a great quality of life and to prevent unwanted complications that may dramatically affect your’s and your child’s health.
Author: Patricia Magno RN