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What Causes a Yeast Infection?

written by: DulceCorazon • edited by: lrohner • updated: 10/29/2010

Yeast infections results from the uncontrolled growth of yeasts in the body. What are the causes of yeast infections? One factor is the use of antibiotics which may affect the presence of other bacteria in the body, particularly the genital tract of women.

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    Overview

    There are several bacteria as well as fungi or yeast that inhabit the human body that usually present in small numbers. One common yeast found in the genital tracts of women are known as Candida albicans. They usually thrive in areas where it is moist and warm without causing harm to the host. A yeast infection can occur because of several factors. The following are causes of yeast infections, also known as candidiasis, in women:

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    Removal of Protective Bacteria

    Good bacteria present in the vagina of women can help control the number of yeast in the area. The most common bacteria present in the vagina is known as Lactobacillus acidophilus. When a woman takes antibiotics for treatment of other infections in the body, these bacteria may also be affected. This is especially common when a woman takes antibiotics for longer periods. The decrease of these bacteria in the vagina can result in the uncontrolled growth of yeast and to yeast infection.

    Other factors that may lead to uncontrolled growth of yeast in the genital tract of women include the use of douches, oral contraceptives and with chemotherapy treatments. An injury in the area may also result in the said infection.

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    Pregnancy and Other Causes

    Pregnancy and the use of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) are also possible yeast infections causes. These are often due to the fluctuation of hormones during pregnancy and while undergoing HRT. Aside from these, some medical conditions like diabetes mellitus can also be the reason why yeast infections take place. Any type of medical condition that weakens the body's immune system can give yeast enough room to multiply without resistance from the host body, eventually resulting in the infection.

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    Prevention

    The use of tight-fitting clothing traps heat and moisture in the genital tract. Because yeast loves to thrive in such areas, they may continue to multiply and cause an infection.

    It is recommended that women should avoid wearing tight clothing, and should always be conscious of keeping the area clean to prevent such an infection. Cotton underwear is also often advised. Use of douches as well as feminine sprays and scented tissue papers should also be minimized or avoided.

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    Symptoms of Yeast Infections

    Vaginal yeast infections usually manifest with burning or itching in their vagina. They may also observe the presence of white clumpy discharges that look like cheese in the affected area, and usually have no odor. The infection may also cause painful sex and pain when urinating.

    Knowing the causes of yeast infections can often help women prevent its occurrence. When women experiences the symptoms of such an infection, they should also go to their physicians for evaluation and prompt treatment in order to prevent further complications from taking place.

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    References

    WebMD: Vaginal Yeast Infections - Topic Overview, http://women.webmd.com/tc/vaginal-yeast-infections-topic-overview

    eMedicinehealth: Candidiasis (Yeast Infection), http://www.emedicinehealth.com/candidiasis_yeast_infection/article_em.htm#Yeast%20Infection%20Causes