Unfortunately for us ladies, the female yeast infection is something that a staggering 75% of us will experience at some point in our lives at least once. For some women, getting it just once would be a bonus – plenty of us get recurring infections on an almost monthly basis!
The culprit in yeast infections for both men and women is a little fungus called “candida albicans“. It’s a bacteria which we often carry in our bodies all the time, and generally does us no harm whatsoever. However – if our internal bacteria balance gets UNbalanced, then the candida can grow rapidly out of control, and that can result in a nasty yeast infection.
So how come women get it more often?
Even though males and females are both liable to be carrying candida albicans around in their systems, and as a result can both get yeast infections, there are a number of factors which are unique to women which make us more likely to suffer (sorry ladies!)
Medical experts reckon that anywhere between 25-50% of women will have the candida albicans bacteria naturally growing in their system. In the normal course of events, it won’t do any harm. However, if the body’s balance of bacteria gets out of whack – hello, yeast infection!
Now both men and women are equally likely to have certain risk factors for that balance getting disrupted – two of them being high blood sugar (so diabetics are particularly prone) and prolonged use of antibiotics. But there are a number of other factors which are far more likely to affect women. Aren’t we lucky.
High Risk Factors for Women
Women get pregnant! And this can be the most likely time of their life to get a yeast infection. The most common period for this to happen is during the 3-6 months phase. The body goes through a number of changes in response to pregnancy. One of those big changes is that more sugar is naturally present in the vagina (yes really!) That increased level of sugar provides a perfect feeding ground for the yeast bacteria, which allows it to grow rapidly and cause an infection.
The increase in sugar is triggered by hormonal changes, particularly the estrogen level going up. This also means that women taking the birth control pill can be at higher risk of yeast infection. Fun!
Additionally, using deodorant or feminine hygiene sprays “down there” can put women at more risk, because these products kill off the good bacteria that keep the yeast at bay. Additionally, as we get older and go into menopause, we become even more vulnerable to infection due to the change in hormone levels.
Is there anything you can do to avoid yeast infections?
There is a great book called Yeast Infection No More which has some really excellent info about avoiding yeast infections and getting rid of the problem for good. There really are a lot of things you can do to avoid a female yeast infection, even thought we are naturally more susceptible than men. Don’t use sprays and douches, use unscented tampons or pads, watch what you eat, and much more. Check out the book for the full story.