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Top 7 Yeast Infection Myths Busted

Top 7 Yeast Infection Myths Busted
Submitted and Medically Reviewed By: Richard Honaker M.D.

Overview

Yeast infections are experienced by about 75 percent of women (and even a few men!), yet many misconceptions remain about this common ailment. At Your Doctors Online, we want to dispel these common misconceptions. Check out the top seven yeast infections-busted!

While an estimated 75 percent of women will experience a yeast infection in their lifetime, the symptoms of a yeast infection (also known as vaginal yeast infection, yeast vaginitis, and vaginal candidiasis) can mimic those of similar afflictions. These include bacterial vaginosis, trichomoniasis, and dermatitis. In fact, 50 percent of women diagnosed with a yeast infection actually have a different affliction.

Yeast infections are common yet uncomfortable. While common, yeast infections have attracted several myths, we would like to dispel.

Common Yeast Infection Myths

There are plenty of myths about yeast infections. For example, some women believe that chocolate makes yeast infections worse. Others believe gluten is to blame. And sex is to blame for others.

What is a recurrent yeast infection? They are recurrent when yeast infections happen four or more times per year. However, this is not so common. Only up to eight percent of women will get recurrent yeast infections.

One of the issues is that women often believe they have a yeast infection and immediately reach for Monistat and other over-the-counter medications to rid the issue. Unfortunately, this can cause yeast infections to become recurrent.

Chat With a Doctor To Get A Prescription For A Yeast Infection

Myth #1: Using a Condom During Sex Prevents Yeast Infections

Interestingly, 29 percent of women believe using a condom will decrease their risk for yeast infections, according to a study.

This is both fact and fiction. Condoms can help to prevent the spread of yeast infections between an infected partner and a non-infected partner. However, yeast infections are often caused when a change in the environment of the vagina and those changes can be signalled by an allergy that an allergic reaction to condoms may trigger. 

Those who are allergic to latex may find that using latex condoms can trigger a yeast infection. Some condoms are covered in nonoxynol-9, a spermicide that may kill the HIV virus. Many studies have shown that condoms cause yeast infection, as nonoxynol-9 has been linked to yeast infections.

You can try non-latex condoms or other barrier methods if you suspect a latex allergy. Many types of condoms are available without nonoxynol-9.

Myth #2: Yeast Infections are a Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI)

This infectious myth is a common misconception because yeast infections can be transmitted through sexual activity and initiated through condoms or nonoxynol-9 (a type of spermicide).

While yeast infections can be transmitted through sexual activity, they have not been considered sexually transmitted infections. This is because yeast infections can happen to women who are not currently sexually active.

Just because you are experiencing symptoms after sex, it does not always point to a yeast infection. Many similar symptoms can be a UTI or STD. Therefore, it is important to talk to a doctor to ensure you are treating your ailment correctly.

Myth #3: Yogurt Does not Treat Yeast Infections

Yogurt is an alternative health remedy for yeast infections. Many studies point to the possibility of yogurt being an effective alternative treatment for yeast infections for those who are either pregnant or those who do not want to risk the side effects of over-the-counter anti-fungal treatments.

Yogurt may be an effective remedy because it contains Lactobacillus bacteria. This healthy bacteria can live in the vagina without irritating the area. It is believed that using yogurt containing good bacteria restores a healthful yeast balance in the vagina. Lactobacillus releases hydrogen peroxide, which kills Candida, combating infection.

While this treatment may have worked for you in the past, it is important to discuss it with a doctor since the bacteria that cause infections are already in your body. In addition, food may not be the best course of first action.

If you want to try and use yogurt as a natural option, it is vital to use natural, sweetener-free, and plain varieties.

Myth #4: Vaginal Washing Can Clear Up the Infection

Washing and keeping your vaginal area clean is essential to your overall health and wellness, but in moderation. This candida myth is a common one. However, excessive washing of your vagina will not cure your infection. Using unscented soap, changing out of tight gym clothing, proper wiping, and wearing breathable cotton underwear can help prevent a yeast infection but not cure it.

To clear up your infection, it is crucial to treat the infection with anti-fungal treatment, whether you choose an over-the-counter option or an alternative treatment.

Myth #5: Swimming causes Yeast Infections

A yeast infection is often associated with swimming. While yeast may thrive in warm and moist conditions, a dip in the pool will not cause a yeast infection. Yeast infections are caused by an imbalance between the bacteria and yeast in your vagina. While swimming does not increase your risk of a yeast infection, sitting around in a wet bathing suit may encourage yeast growth or result in Candida on the buttock. Changing out of a wet bathing suit after swimming into dry underwear is important. A breathable material, such as cotton, is best. 

Myth #6: Only Women Get Yeast Infections

Yeast infections are not considered a sexually transmitted disease, but they can be spread by sexual contact. Even though this infection can be spread by sexual contact, it is not considered an STI since it can also be present in a woman who is not sexually active.

While it is considered rare, a yeast infection transfer to a man can occur by having unprotected sex with a woman who has a yeast infection. Men who are not circumcised are considered to be at an increased risk. For men, the yeast infection symptoms often appear as white spots or a rash on the penis, peeling skin, itching, irritation, or burning.

Myth # 7: There Is No Way to Prevent Yeast Infections

While there is no way to prevent every yeast infection, many can be prevented by following some suitable self-care methods and avoiding irritants that disrupt your body’s natural balance. Sometimes a yeast infection cures itself simply by the following practices:

Some best practices to avoid yeast infections:

  • Eat a diet that is low in sugar and low in carbohydrates
  • Eat lots of fruits and veggies for a boost in immunity and good gut health
  • Wear loose-fitting underwear in a breathable material (like cotton)
  • Change out of wet bathing suits and work out gear right away.
  • Clean the outside of your vagina (vulva) with unscented soap. There is no need to clean the inside of the vagina or to use a douche.

The real issue is that most women use products that treat symptoms, not the cause. Monistat is a good option, and of course, you should always talk to a doctor to ensure you actually have a yeast infection before doing any home treatment. The reasons you keep getting infections may be something serious.

Chat With a Doctor To Get A Prescription For A Yeast Infection

What is a Yeast Infection?

First, it is important to know what that discomfort below the waistline is. A yeast infection is simply an overgrowth of yeast due to an imbalance of bacteria in your most sensitive areas.

Vaginas are usually completely self-cleaning and able to regulate the balance between bacteria and yeast (a type of fungus). A yeast infection occurs when this natural balance is disrupted, and an overgrowth of yeast occurs.

The majority of yeast infections (over 90 %) are caused by the species known as Candida albicans. The other 10 % are made up of other Candida species.

The presence of Candida species in the vagina is not enough to warrant a cause for alarm. In fact, an estimated 20 to 50 percent of healthy women already have Candida in the vagina.

An infection will only occur if the natural balance between bacteria and yeast is disturbed. Several external factors can cause this imbalance.

Yeast Infection Symptoms Include:

  • Burning and redness
  • Burning during urination
  • Vaginal pain during sex
  • General soreness
  • Vaginal Itching
  • Smelly Vaginal Discharge

The truth is, most women think they have a yeast infection but do not. The medication easily purchased at the pharmacy can make it worse. If you have an itchy vagina, don’t immediately diagnose yourself with a yeast infection. Most women know these symptoms all too well. This uncomfortable infection is troublesome, but don’t let the following yeast infection myths make it worse.

Common Itchy Vagina Culprits

  • Douching
  • Over Washing
  • Wearing Tight Clothing (yoga pants)
  • Not Changing Sweaty Gym Shorts
  • Waxing
  • Shaving
  • Benzocaine Creams (Vagisil)
  • Spermicide Condoms
  • Lubrications             

Vaginal itching will not kill you, but it is very uncomfortable. But it is crucial to get the facts from a doctor before using yeast infection remedies that could possibly make things worse or even cause an actual yeast infection by wiping out the good bacteria needed.

What Women Could Do First When Itching Happens

If you are experiencing yeast infection symptoms, it may be best to first try an antihistamine like Zyrtec, Claritin, or Allegra. This could reduce the inflammation that is causing your itchy, uncomfortable vagina. Topical steroids like one percent hydrocortisone may also help relieve itching.

The key takeaway is that not everything uncomfortable in your most sensitive areas is a yeast infection.

When to Consult a Doctor

By self-diagnosing and using yeast infection medications via the store could be making you have recurrent yeast infections or recurrent yeast infection symptoms. Before doing any DIY treatments, you should talk to a doctor. Yeast infections can be uncomfortable and annoying. Consult with our online doctor at Your Doctors Online to get proper treatment for a yeast infection. 

Chat With a Doctor To Get A Prescription For A Yeast Infection

FAQs About Common Misconceptions Related to Yeast Infection

Can latex condoms cause yeast infections?

Those who are allergic to latex may find that using latex condoms can trigger a yeast infection. Some condoms are covered in nonoxynol-9, a spermicide that may kill the HIV virus. Many studies have shown that such condoms cause a yeast infection, as nonoxynol-9 has been linked to yeast infections.

What can mimic a yeast infection?

A yeast infection does not always cause vaginal irritation, itching or discharge. Many similar symptoms can be a UTI or STD. 

Can you go swimming while treating a yeast infection?

While swimming does not increase your risk of a yeast infection, sitting around in a wet bathing suit may encourage yeast growth. Changing out of a wet bathing suit after swimming immediately is essential. 

Can a yeast infection kill you?

Yeast infection isn’t life-threatening, but in cases where infections worsen or in individuals with compromised immunity, it can lead to complications. Although rare, Invasive yeast infections may prove to be fatal.

Can a woman transmit a yeast infection to a man?

While it is considered rare, a yeast infection transfer to a man can occur by having unprotected sex with a woman who has a yeast infection. Men who are not circumcised are considered to be at an increased risk. For men, the yeast infection symptoms often appear as white spots or a rash on the penis, peeling skin, itching, irritation, or burning.

Can a yeast infection spread to your butt?

A yeast infection can occur almost on your body. For example, yeast on the butt, anal or genital region can occur as Candida can spread to the surrounding area.

Can a yeast infection move to your anus?

An overgrowth of the fungus Candida causes a yeast infection. A yeast infection can affect the anal region as well. 

Can a yeast infection cure itself?

Yes, mild yeast infections can clear up on their own. Over the counter treatments are also effective in treating most yeast infections.

Can your diet cause yeast infections?

Your diet can contribute to recurring yeast infections. Common food groups considered problematic include:
White flour and rice
Foods/ drinks fermented with yeast
Food containing high sugar content 

Is a yeast infection something to be embarrassed about?

Yeast infection isn’t a sexually transmitted disease. Instead, it is a prevalent vaginal infection experienced by women that can be easily cured. 

Doctors Treating this Issue
dr asim cheema

Dr. Asim Cheema

Internal Medicine

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