It is more common to get a yeast infection during pregnancy than at any other point in your life and this is especially true during your second trimester. If you are worried you have a yeast infection, this information can help you talk about it with your doctor. A yeast infection will not have any major effects on your pregnancy, but they can be harder to control throughout pregnancy which in turn can cause you discomfort.
Causes of Yeast Infection During Pregnancy
A yeast infection happens if the balance of yeast and acid levels within the vagina is abnormal. This can cause yeast to overgrow which in turn leads to the discomfort associated with a yeast infection. This is not a serious condition despite the discomfort associated with it. If you haven’t previously had a yeast infection and are experiencing some of the symptoms, contact your doctor so you can get an accurate diagnosis.
Yeast infections can be due to a range of causes with some of the most common including:
- Blood or semen
- Vaginal intercourse
- Diabetes or other instances of high blood sugar
- Taking steroids or antibiotics
- Taking birth control pills or hormones
- Hormonal changes associated with the pre-menstrual cycle or pregnancy
Why Does Pregnancy Increase the Risks of Yeast Infection?
The risk of developing a yeast infection increases during pregnancy partly because your body will experience multiple changes. The large number of changes makes it harder for your body to track and take care of chemical changes occurring in your vaginal environment. This can lead to an increase of sugar in your vaginal secretions. As yeast feeds on sugar, you may develop an imbalance which can lead to too much fungus.
How to Know If You Have Yeast Infection During Pregnancy
In some cases the symptoms of a yeast infection will appear and disappear on their own, but in most cases you will need some sort of treatment for them to go away. They may get worse until you treat them and common symptoms include:
- Burning during urination (occurring when your urine hits the irritated genitals)
- Pain or discomfort during sex
- Odorless vaginal discharge which is frequently cottage-cheesy, creamy, or white
- Redness, burning, soreness, irritation, or itching in the labia and vagina (sometimes accompanied by swelling)
When the infection speads to the mouth, you get oral thrush. Symptoms of thrush include white patches on the roof of the mouth as well as its sides, with occasional patches on the tongue. This condition is easily treated and not serious, so it should not be a cause for concern.
Could I Be Experiencing Something Else?
In some cases you will experience symptoms that are similar to those of a yeast infection, but your doctor will rule it out. You may be suffering from Bacterial Vaginosis (a vaginal infection), or a sexually transmitted disease (STD) such as trichomoniasis, gonorrhea, or chlamydia.
When to See a Doctor
Any time that you experience the symptoms of a yeast infection, you should contact your doctor. As mentioned, the symptoms of a yeast infection can be very similar to those of certain other infections including STDs. Because of this, you must have a proper diagnose each time you develop the symptoms to ensure that you truly have a yeast infection and to provide the most effective treatment. Talk to your doctor if you don’t improve after three days of treatment or if your symptoms come back or worsen after your treatment.
How to Deal with Yeast Infection During Pregnancy
Most doctors will recommend suppositories and vaginal creams to treat yeast infections during pregnancy. Diflucan is an oral medication which hasn’t yet been proven safe for pregnancy or lactation so doctors will not prescribe this. If the yeast infection isn’t treated, your baby may develop thrush during delivery, but this can be treated using Nystatin.
During pregnancy it can take 10 to 14 days for you to experience relief from your yeast infection or for it to completely heal. After your infection is completely gone and your sores have healed, you can use Nystatin powder or a starch-free drying powder to help prevent the infection from recurring.
Should My Partner Be Concerned If I Have Yeast Infection?
Your partner should not worry too much if you have a yeast infection as it is not a STD. Experts are unsure about whether they can be sexually transmitted. However, between 12 and 15% of men will develop an itchy rash on their genitals after having unprotected sex with a woman who has a yeast infection and uncircumcised men have an increased risk. In this case your partner should see a doctor.
Will Yeast Infection Harm My Baby?
The good news is that a yeast infection during pregnancy will not negatively affect your baby in any way. The only exception is if you still have the infection during labor. In this case there is a chance that your baby will contract the disease by passing through your birth canal. In this case, she might develop thrush, the term used to describe a yeast infection of the mouth.
Video: How to Treat Yeast Infection During Pregnancy
How to Prevent Yeast Infection During Pregnancy
By keeping your genital region dry and maintaining a balance of your genital flora, you can reduce your risk of yeast infection. The following suggestions may help although not all have been backed by scientific evidence:
- Eat yogurt containing live Lactobacillus acidophilus as this can help maintain the right bacterial balance
- Wipe starting in the front and heading to the back
- Only use warm water to clean your genitals
- Avoid feminine hygiene sprays, scented laundry detergent, perfumed soaps, and bubble baths as they can cause irritation
- Let your genital area air out at night by sleeping without underwear
- Always change underwear after sweating during exercise and take off wet swimsuits immediately after swimming
- Opt for breathable cotton underwear while avoiding tight pants or pantyhose