“Many women do not dare to talk openly about their intimate problems, out of embarrassment or even out of guilt. They only look for a solution if they have pain during sex, fear that this will weigh on their sex life, think they have a sexually transmitted disease or fear cancer, “says Professor Dominique Parent, founder of the department Mucous Disorders from the Erasmus Hospital (ULB). “Certainly in families where it is not easy to talk about intimate subjects, it can take a long time for women to move to professional help.”
A vaginal yeast infection is usually quite harmless, but the symptoms can be very stressful: itching, burning and abnormal vaginal loss. In most cases, the fungus occurs both internally (vagina) and externally (vulva). That is why it is important to always treat the vaginal infection and the labia as well. In fact, vaginal yeast infections are common. “Half of the women had a
vaginal infection at least once before the age of 25,” explains Parent.
“Half of the women had vaginal infection yeast infection at least once before the age of 25″
Vaginal itching and pain
If you have itching without vaginal loss, it is probably more a skin condition than a vaginal infection. Another story is if you have vaginal itching with white loss. “That usually indicates an inflammation or infection of the vagina. This mucous secretion irritates the vulva, causing itching, scratching and pain. In 40% of cases, a fungus, candida, is the basis of the vaginal infection. Typically is a white, thick vaginal discharge, in contrast to normal, clear vaginal loss. ”
Pain can occur spontaneously or triggered, often during sex, but also if you wear too tight pants, use tampons or exercise sports such as cycling or riding. The causes of this chronic pain are vestibulodynia and atopic vulvitis. Vestibulodynia is a condition that mainly affects young women and can lead to painful sexual intercourse. Atopy is a hereditary condition that occurs in 30 to 40% of the population, and this can be the cause of eczema in children, asthma or hay fever. An atopic skin (a very dry, fragile skin) increases the risk of a vaginal infection. In adults, eczema can occur on the genitals, with pain due to friction during penetration. When the hormone production decreases or stops, especially after the menopause, the mucous membrane can also become brittle, causing pain when touching, urinating or making love.
How does a vaginal fungal infection develop?
The cause of a fungal infection in the vagina often remains unclear. It is not due to contamination. But there is more fungus (candida) in the vagina than it normally belongs.
The following factors can disrupt the balance between bacteria and fungi in the vagina:
With hormonal changes, fungi sometimes seem to grow better. For example, around menstruation or during a pregnancy.
Thorough washing of your vagina with soap (including neutral soap) irritates the mucous membrane, which can increase the number of fungi.
Antibiotics can kill certain types of bacteria in the vagina, allowing fungi to expand.
Other medications, such as corticosteroids, can also increase the chance of developing fungal infections.
Women with diabetes are more likely to develop vaginal yeast infections.
Often, none of these causes play a role and we do not know why a fungal infection occurs or recurs regularly.
Women do not get a vaginal yeast infection from their partner. Candida infection is not contagious and therefore can not be sexually transmitted. Everyone carries these fungi on the skin and mucous membranes.
There is no evidence that wearing tight clothing, panty liners or tampons increases the risk of fungal infections.
How is a vaginal fungal infection demonstrated?
A fungal infection in the vagina is usually recognizable by the symptoms (itching, burning sensation), the type of secretion (white, crumbly-yogurty) and the mucous membrane of the vagina that is irritated (red). If you have no other symptoms (such as stomach pain or bloody discharge), a fungal infection is likely. Sometimes the GP must examine the secretion to be sure.
The first time you come to the doctor with these complaints, he / she can do a physical examination. The doctor will ask you to take off your underwear and lie down on the examination couch. Spread your legs a bit and try to relax. The GP then carefully inserts a spreader (duckbill or speculum) into the vagina to view the mucous membrane. If necessary, the GP can use a cotton swab to remove some excretion for research.
Have you had a fungal infection before and do you recognize the symptoms? (Did a treatment with medication help you?) Then you probably have a fungal infection again. This is more common. Physical examination is then not always necessary.
10 hygiene tips for vaginal problems
Professor Dominique Parent: “You can easily treat vaginal itching and pain. It is important to consult a doctor for a correct diagnosis. The pharmacist may also be able to help you, but if the symptoms do not go away after a few days, you still have to go for a consultation. “Would you rather avoid being cured? Then apply these ten tips:
- Wash yourself twice a day, preferably with a little soap (pH-neutral) instead of just water, just to prevent dead skin cells from remaining in the folds of your skin and thus provoke irritation. Rinse thoroughly and carefully pat the irritated zone. Avoid vaginal showers.
- Choose ‘soap without soap’ or wash with special oils that are gentle on the skin.
- Products for intimate hygiene are of no use, because the vulva skin is comparable to the rest of your body.
- Care products with plant extracts or perfumes can irritate and even trigger allergies. Also avoid the use of essential oils.
- You can carefully choose emollient creams from a range of products specifically developed for atopic patients.
- Strings are not recommended in case of irritation.
- Panties with a wide, cotton section are preferred.
- Use tampons rather than sanitary towels. Choose a sanitary napkin, keep it as natural as possible – without perfume and without plastic topping.
- Use as few panty liners as possible.
- Lace panties are not a problem, if they have a piece of cotton and do not touch the skin directly.