Yeast infections are fairly common but usually don’t last very long and clear up with over-the-counter medication. However, if yeast infections keep coming back regardless of what you do, chances are you have a chronic yeast infection problem. Chronic yeast infections can be frustrating and uncomfortable, so women with this problem are often desperate to get help. But how are chronic yeast infections treated?
What Causes Yeast Infections
Yeast is usually present at the vagina opening in small numbers. A yeast infection means there is an overgrowth of yeast cells in the vagina, usually the yeast known as Candida albicans. If you have more than three vaginal yeast infections a year, you are experiencing chronic yeast infections.
Effective treatment for chronic yeast infections requires an accurate diagnosis of the underlying cause.
Vaginal itching and burning are the main symptoms of a yeast infection. Other symptoms include an abnormal vaginal discharge, irritation, and soreness.
When yeast infections recur, traditional treatments are not effective because they do not target the underlying cause. Chronic yeast infections are often the result of an altered vaginal microflora.
What Is An Altered Vaginal Microflora?
When the vaginal microflora is in a healthy state various strains of bacteria and nearly no yeast cells are present. The dominant bacteria – lactobacilli – help to keep harmful microorganisms like yeast under control.
An altered vaginal microflora occurs when there is an overgrowth of yeast or other harmful microorganisms. This is known as an altered vaginal microflora pattern.
An altered vaginal microflora pattern is caused by a change in the bacterial milieu. This can be due to a variety of factors, including smoking, lifestyle stress, borderline low weight, the onset of menopause, and excessive physical activity.
The secretions that flow down from an altered vaginal microflora can irritate the tissues at the vaginal opening, resulting in the symptoms associated with chronic yeast infections.
How To Treat Chronic Yeast Infections
Chronic yeast infections can be treated by returning the vaginal microflora to normal. However, this requires an initial analysis of the constituents of the vaginal secretions to determine the concentrations and types of microorganisms present. This type of analysis can be done with the help of a vaginal fluid analysis (VFA) test.
The VFA test is a sophisticated diagnostic tool developed by board-certified gynecologist Dr. R. Stuart Fowler of Fowler GYN International (FGI). The VFA test is a more advanced technique than the traditional wet-prep exam, as it provides much more information.
If the results of the VFA test confirm a diagnosis of an altered vaginal microflora, FGI recommends a customized treatment protocol to resolve the yeast infection. The treatment protocol is called vaginal rejuvenate therapy.
Vaginal rejuvenate therapy incorporates medications and hypocontactant skincare products. The medications included in the regimen will be determined by the VFA test results.
The treatment protocol is designed to restore the vaginal microflora to a balanced, healthy state. When this happens, the vaginal secretions will be neutral and no longer support the growth of yeast. Consequently, the symptoms of the yeast infection will resolve.
Most patients can expect an improvement in symptoms after about 4 months on the treatment protocol. However, it may take up to 8 months to achieve optimal results.
Since most women with recurrent yeast infections typically have sensitive external genital tissues, FGI recommends the use of hypocontactant skincare products. These products are free of chemicals and fragrances that can irritate the vaginal tissues and lead to symptoms that are similar to a yeast infection.