Do your yeast infections keep coming back? While most women get the occasional yeast infection, if you experience more than four episodes in one year, then you are suffering from recurrent or chronic yeast infections. But what’s behind chronic yeast infections, and what treatment options are available.
What’s Behind Chronic Yeast Infections?
The treatment for chronic yeast infections can be challenging without a proper diagnosis.
A vaginal yeast infection is typically caused by the overgrowth of a specific type of yeast known as Candida albicans. However, chronic yeast infections are often the result of an altered vaginal microflora pattern. Consequently, standard treatment approaches such as antifungal medication do not result in more than a transient response.
What Is An Altered Vaginal Microflora Pattern?
A vaginal ecosystem that varies from the usual healthy patterns is known as an altered vaginal microflora pattern.
The vaginal microflora consists of various strains of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ bacteria. The good bacteria or lactobacilli maintain the health of the vagina by secreting high levels of lactic acid, hydrogen peroxide and bacteriocins.
Lactobacilli keep the vaginal pH acidic, which is a deterrent to the growth of yeast and other pathogens that prefer an alkaline environment. Therefore, they provide a defense against the overgrowth of pathogens such as yeast.
Yeast is a fungus typically found on the skin at the vaginal opening. If the delicate balance in the vaginal ecosystem is altered, yeast can invade the vagina and multiply and give rise to a variety of symptoms.
The change in the makeup of the vaginal microflora can occur due to various factors, especially the factors that can lower the estrogen production including the onset of menopause, smoking, lifestyle stress, excessive physical activity and low body weight.
Symptoms such as soreness, chronic itching, discharge, and burning, which are associated with yeast infections, may be caused by an altered vaginal microflora pattern.
Chronic Yeast Infections: What Are My Options For Treatment?
Treating chronic yeast infections effectively, requires an accurate diagnosis. The good news is diagnosis is possible with the help of a vaginal fluid analysis (VFA) test.
The VFA test is a specialized diagnostic tool developed by vulvovaginal specialist Dr. R. Stuart Fowler of Fowler GYN International (FGI).
The VFA test provides an analysis of the vaginal constituents. If the diagnosis of an altered vaginal microflora pattern is established through the VFA test, a customized treatment protocol is created. The treatment protocol is intended to restore balance to the vaginal microflora.
The treatment protocol recommended by FGI for chronic yeast infections typically involves medications and products that will lower the concentration of yeast on the skin. The medications used will vary for each patient as it depends on the findings of the VFA test.
The symptoms associated with an altered vaginal microflora arise as a result of the irritation caused by the vaginal secretions from the abnormal microflora.
When the vaginal ecosystem is restored to a healthy state, the secretions will once again become neutral. As a result, they will no longer irritate the vaginal tissues at the opening of the vagina, and the symptoms will gradually resolve.
Patients typically notice an improvement in symptoms after about 4 months, but it can take up to 8 months for the symptoms to fully resolve.
Take the Next Step
The experts in vaginal health at Fowler GYN International (FGI) Phoenix, AZ regularly treat women with chronic yeast infections. Dr. Fowler is an Emeritus Mayo Clinic board certified gynecologist.
You can reach them at https://www.fowlergyninternational.com/, or by calling (480) 420-4001.