Despite recent successes recorded in the fight against diseases in the country and the numerous interventions by foreign donors, in terms of provisions of funds and drugs, Nigerians continue to battle with Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs). The recent being Vaginal Yeast Infections otherwise known as Candidiasis. Kasim Sumaina writes
Vaginal Yeast infection, also known as candidiasis, is a common female health condition caused by the fungus Candida associated with intense itching, swelling and irritation. If not well treated may affect the reproductive organs of women and usually, is of sexual origin referred to as pelvic inflammatory diseases, bacteria Infections, viral infections.
According to the Mayo Clinic, USA, three out of four women will experience a yeast infection at one point in their lives and once one gets a yeast infection, the clinic emphasised that the person is more likely to get another one.
Candida yeast infections are not just a female issue, even though many commonly think of it this way, reveal medical experts. The vaginal is such an easy place for Candida to grow. However, it’s development starts elsewhere in the body. In the 1950s, studies pegged the amount of Candida overgrowth as being about 15 per cent of the population. Now, it’s over 70 per cent of the population and still rising.
A Consultant Gynaecologist, Dr. Anuman Ogbonnaya who explained the need for personal hygiene when the symptom is first noticed, said vaginal infections are common female conditions which causes an intense itching, swelling, and irritation and can be spread by sexual contact, but in general they are not considered sexually transmitted infection. “This disease weakens the immune system of those suffering from HIV/AIDS, pregnant women and those with diabetes. The immune systems of these categories of people is often on the low side.
According to him, candidiasis is a whitish discharge, like ‘maclean’ with serious itchiness, which can simply be prevented through personal hygiene like frequent change of underwear, adding that treatment plans may include use of anti-fugal likedyflocan. “They can be swallowed and also inserted like the canesten.”
He observed that the infection can be transmitted sexually, hence the need for treatment to include both partners. “Some women can actually have candidiasis in their reproductive track. Some can have immediate or delayed symptoms and some may have it as soon as an infected partner comes in contact with their organisms.
“Treatment for yeast infections is relatively simple, depending on how severe they are. The Candida genus of yeast is a naturally occurring microorganisms in the vaginal area. It’s growth is kept in check by the lactobacillus bacteria. However, these bacteria can’t work effectively if there is an imbalance in your system. This leads to an overgrowth of yeast, which causes the symptoms of vaginal yeast infections to be present. If there is a recurrent yeast infections, or problems getting rid of a yeast infection with a conventional treatment, then a different version of Candida might be the culprit. A lab test can let your doctor know which type of Candida you have,” he added.
He also noted that the imbalance that allows the overgrowth of yeast to happen can be due to some antibiotics which can lower the amount of lactobacillus, or good bacteria in the vaginal. Adding that, pregnancy, uncontrolled diabetes, weak immune system, poor eating habits, including a lots of sugar, hormonal imbalance near your menstrual cycle, stress and lack of sleep are parts of the symptoms.
He continued: “Vaginal yeast infections have a common set of symptoms. Usually the length of time the yeast infections are left untreated can have a direct impact on how severe the symptoms are. These includes, itching, burning, large or small amount of vaginal discharge, often whitish gray and thick, (although there are also times the discharge can be watery), pain during sex, soreness and rash.
On diagnosis, he stated that examination is usually done on the vaginal and the surrounding area to see if there were external signs of infections. ‘’Test is usually ordered only for women with yeast infections on a regular basis or for infections that won’t go away. But, certain types of Candida will not respond to normal treatment and will require an aggressive course of treatment. If you meet one of the following criteria, your doctor will more than likely treat your yeast infection as if it were a severe or complicated case, you have severe redness, swelling, and itching that leads to sores or tears in your vaginal tissue, had more than four yeast infections in a year, uncontrolled diabetes or weak immune system from medication or from being HIV-positive, among others.
“Treatment for cases like these include, 14-day cream, ointment, tablet, or suppository vaginal treatment, two or three doses of Diflucan (not for pregnant women), long-term prescription of Diflucan that is taken once a week for six weeks, or long-term use of a topical anti-fungal medication, treatment of your sexual partner or use of condoms when having sex.
He noted that other treatments include natural remedies like tea tree oil cream. You can also treat vaginal yeast infections with natural remedies if you would like tea-tree oil cream, garlic or boric acid vaginal suppositories or yogurt taken orally or inserted into the vaginal.
He advised that when strange things are noticed in the vagina, medical help should be sort. “People should avoid self medication because, you might not be able to identify certain issues. The major problem we have in Nigeria is poor health seeking behaviour amongst the populace. We have the issue of poverty and these two factors are responsible for people not getting the best out of the available medical facilities in the country.
“In many cases, you may know exactly what led to your yeast infection. For instance, some many women experience these infections every time they take antibiotics. By recognising such risk factors, one can prevent future infections.”
He listed some common methods of prevention to include, avoid sitting in hot tubs or taking frequent hot tub baths, avoid wearing tight pants, pantyhose, tights, or leggings, avoid using feminine deodorant or deodorant tampons/pads, wearing natural fibers such as cotton, linen, or silk, change feminine products frequently, wash under wear in hot water, eat a well-balanced diet, eat yogurt or take supplement with lactobacillus.
Adding, he said: “It is most important to seek help when needed and appropriately from the right source in order to know what our problems are and not self medication.”