Diabetes is a chronic condition which has become prevalent in most households. It can affect your health in several ways, but did you know it can also cause vaginal yeast infections in women?
People with diabetes have high blood sugar levels and are more susceptible to vaginal yeast infections. When there is too much sugar in your blood, there will also unavoidably be too much sugar in your urine, which promotes yeast overgrowth.
We spoke to our doctor Dr Payal Chaudhary, Senior Consultant, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Rosewalk Healthcare who explained the reason for vaginal yeast infections in diabetic women and its diagnosis.
What Is Vaginal Yeast Infection
Vaginal yeast infections are one of the most common infections of the vulvovaginal region in women, caused by a fungus called Candida albicans. Women who suffer from this infection have curdy white discharge and intense itching in the vulval region.
The vagina is lined by healthy bacteria which are called lactobacillus, the growth of these bacteria is facilitated by the hormone oestrogen. Lactobacilli keep the pH of the vagina acidic and prevent the growth of pathogenic bacteria and fungi. Sometimes this delicate balance is disturbed by some predisposing factors.
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Connection Between Diabetes & Vaginal Yeast Infection
Diabetes, especially if not well-controlled, can lead to increased glucose in the cells of the lining of the vagina, which acts as food for the yeast to grow. Yeast can overgrow due to this rise in sugar. The body uses bodily fluids, particularly vaginal secretions where yeast can flourish and continue to multiply, to discharge the extra sugar. As a result, you may develop yeast infection. Hence, it is important to schedule periodic screenings to check for vaginal yeast infections.
Other Causes of Vaginal Yeast Infections
Other reasons that can lead to vaginal yeast infections are as follows:
- Hormonal changes of pregnancy, breastfeeding and menopause.
- Sometimes yeast infections occur after an antibiotic course. Antibiotics kill the good bacteria, lactobacillus as well.
- People who use vaginal washes and sprays may also lead to a change in vaginal pH, triggering vaginal infection.
- Despite not being a sexually transmitted ailment, a yeast infection can spread from one person to another through sexual contact.
Treatments For Vaginal Yeast Infections
Antifungal medications are the mainstay of treatment. Antifungal vaginal suppositories, creams, ointments and sometimes oral antifungals are the best way to treat these infections. One should consult a gynaecologist for confirmation of diagnosis and to start the right treatment at the right time.
Probiotic intake can help slow the growth of yeast in the vagina, thus lowering the risk of recurrent infection. Controlling sugar levels in the case of diabetics and losing weight if obese can also help keep these infections at bay. Avoiding using hygiene products like douches and wearing cotton breathable undergarments and trousers etc can help in preventing these infections.
Having diabetes or a compromised immune system can make yeast infections more likely to occur frequently. The illness is known as Recurrent Vulvovaginal Candidiasis. (RVVC). Your doctor may advise you to take a weekly antifungal medication for six months if you experience yeast infections at least four times each year to treat them.