How to Treat Recurring Menopausal Yeast Infections
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LUCY MCBRIDEThe most common cause for vaginal yeast infections is inflammation of the vulva or vagina from Candida, which is a yeast.
Women around the time of menopause can experience an increase in vaginal yeast infections. Because the drop in estrogen, that is what menopause is, can cause a thinning of the vaginal tissue and a loss of elasticity which provides almost a perfect environment for yeast to overgrow.
We define recurrent vaginal yeast infections as four or more yeast infections in a calendar year. People who have yeast infections, and certainly with recurrent yeast infections, are often very frustrated. It can interfere with their quality of life, with their sexual function. So we treat vaginal yeast infections typically with either a single dose of an oral anti-Candida medication or with over-the-counter topical medications that do not require a prescription.
Most people prefer the single dose prescription medication that is an antifungal against candida to treat vaginal yeast infections. But the over-the-counter topicals are no less effective, they're just a little messy and cumbersome.
Some of the behavioral modifications that may improve the likelihood of getting a vaginal yeast infection are avoiding tight fitting clothing, avoiding wearing pantyliners, getting out of wet clothing as soon as possible, and taking a probiotic, particularly if you're on antibiotics for some other reason, and avoiding high sugar foods and drinks.
I think in some women, topical estrogen can help reduce the chance of vaginal yeast infections. I tell my patients it's important to see a specialist, particularly a gynecologist, if they have recurrent vaginal yeast infections or if they have complicated yeast infections. Such that they are having severe pains, severe symptoms, skin irritation, and/or if they have some other immune compromised situation that would warrant a shift in their treatment.
Sometimes we self treat with over the counter medications, but we're actually treating the wrong thing. So it may not be that you have a recurrent candida infection, you may have something else altogether. So it's important to check in with your medical provider when you have questions or are unsure.
I just want to relay to my patients when I see them for these things that treating vaginitis is possible. We just need to troubleshoot it. And that with treatment, they can feel more comfortable, being less pain, have less discomfort, and that their self-image and even their sexual function can improve.