If you have recurring episodes of itching, burning, and vaginal discharge, you may have chronic yeast infections. Some yeasts form a part of the normal vaginal microflora, but when you have excessive growth of these yeasts, they can cause symptoms. If your yeast infections keep coming back, you may need the help of a specialist in vulvovaginal conditions.
What is a Yeast Infection?
In a healthy vaginal environment, lactobacilli or “good” bacteria consume skin cells shed from the vaginal lining and keep the vaginal secretions acidic. Yeasts do not grow well in this environment, so they stay at low levels. If something disrupts the population of lactobacilli, the vagina becomes less acidic, and the yeasts can overgrow. This causes classic yeast infection symptoms such as burning, redness, itching, and discharge.
Why Do I Keep Getting Yeast Infections?
If you get recurrent yeast infections, you may have altered vaginal microflora (AVMF), disrupting the natural balance of microorganisms in the vagina. Vulvovaginal specialists like the team at Fowler GYN International understand the underlying causes of AVMF, which is the key to restoring the normal vaginal balance.
Temporary imbalances happen in the vaginal microflora for various reasons, including ordinary events like menstrual periods. Most women will experience a yeast infection at least once. Taking antibiotics dramatically increases the risk of a yeast infection because the antibiotics kill your necessary lactobacilli population and the problem bacteria. After this insult, your microflora may recover unaided, or the imbalance may persist. When your symptoms never go away or keep returning, you need help to restore your vaginal microflora. When the lactobacilli population returns to normal, yeast will return to its usual place as a minor resident.
How is a Yeast Infection Diagnosed?
Any doctor can test for the presence of a yeast infection. A more advanced form of testing called Vaginal Fluid Analysis (VFA) can help your vulvovaginal doctor determine why yeast infections come back even after treatment. The VFA will show your doctor whether the lactobacilli have enough shed skin cells to eat and whether their population seems healthy. White blood cells, not usually found in the vagina, can indicate that the immune system is responding to an infection. After determining what has caused your lactobacilli to decrease, your doctor can begin treatment.
How Does a Vulvovaginal Doctor Treat a Yeast Infection?
You can choose from many over-the-counter medications to relieve the symptoms of your yeast infections, but if you have a chronic problem, relief never lasts long. To get control of the yeast overgrowth, treatment must restore the normal vaginal microflora. Your doctor will choose a targeted treatment protocol that treats the causes of your imbalance, not just the symptoms.
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.