Millions of women worldwide are familiar with the symptoms: itching, burning, and discharge that can signal the start of a yeast infection. If you suffer from repeated vaginal yeast infections and do not get relief from typical treatments, your vagina may be providing them with an ideal environment. If your yeast infections keep coming back, schedule an appointment with a vulvovaginal specialist.
What is a Yeast Infection?
Yeasts are single-celled microorganisms that live at low levels in healthy vaginas. In a balanced state, yeasts make up a minor part of the normal vaginal microflora and cause no problems. However, your vaginal microflora can become unbalanced, allowing yeasts to overgrow. This altered vaginal microflora (AVMF) removes the natural limits that keep vaginal yeast under control.
What Does the Beginning of a Yeast Infection Feel Like?
The first signs of a yeast infection indicate that your vagina and vulva have become irritated by yeast overgrowth. Symptoms of a yeast infection can vary widely but often include:
- Itching and burning
- Soreness or pain
- Swelling of the vulva
- Vaginal rash
- White, odorless discharge
The discharge during a yeast infection is a sign of AVMF. It indicates that yeast numbers have increased enough to become a problem. Some women may only experience a few yeast infections, but many develop a chronic problem where yeast infections recur and detract from their quality of life.
Why Do I Keep Getting Yeast Infections?
If you get yeast infections on a regular basis, you should see a vulvovaginal specialist like Dr. Fowler at Fowler GYN International. Women who keep getting yeast infections have an unbalanced AVMF that will not restore itself to a normal state without treatment. Most yeast infection treatments do not address the underlying cause of the problem, resulting in infections that come back over and over.
In a healthy vagina, bacteria called lactobacillus consume cells shed from the vaginal tissues. They produce lactic acid, and the correct amount keeps the vagina in an acidic state. Yeasts and other bacteria do not thrive under these acidic conditions, so they reproduce at low levels. If the population of lactobacillus declines, this acidic protection fades, and yeasts can begin to grow unchecked.
How is a Yeast Infection Diagnosed and Treated?
Dr. Fowler diagnoses the cause of AVMF using a Vaginal Fluid Analysis (VFA) test. This test, developed by Dr. Fowler during his work at the Mayo Clinic, is performed in the certified and specially equipped lab at Fowler GYN Internation. It examines several factors that may point to the cause of your recurrent yeast infections, including:
- Low populations of lactobacillus
- High populations of yeast
- Populations of bacteria normally kept at low levels
- Problems with the squamous cells that feed the lactobacillus
These results will allow Dr. Fowler to assign you to one of over 40 treatment protocols designed to restore your healthy vaginal microflora. A normal lactobacillus population will gradually restore an acidic environment restricting yeast growth.
Take the Next Step
The experts in vaginal health at Fowler GYN International (FGI) Phoenix, AZ specialize in the treatment of vulvovaginal conditions. The team at FGI is led by Dr. R. Stuart Fowler. Dr. Fowler is an Emeritus Mayo Clinic board-certified gynecologist.
You can reach FGI at https://www.fowlergyninternational.com/, or by calling (480) 420-4001.