Vaginal yeast infections are very common and not usually serious. However, if these infections keep coming back, it is usually the sign of an underlying problem. If you have more than three yeast infections in one year, it means you have a recurrent yeast infection problem. But what is the cause of recurrent yeast infections?
What Is The Cause Of Recurrent Yeast Infections?
Yeast infections occur due to an overgrowth of yeast in the vagina, particularly the Candida albicans species. However, conventional treatments focus on relieving the symptoms of the infection rather than treating the underlying cause.
The overgrowth of yeast in the vagina points to a shift in the vaginal milieu, which is indicative of an altered vaginal microflora pattern.
How An Altered Vaginal Microflora Pattern Causes Yeast Infections
An altered vaginal microflora pattern is an abnormal microbial pattern that is produced when there is a change in the dominant bacteria in the vaginal microbiome.
The vaginal microflora is composed of over 30 strains of good and bad bacteria that live side-by-side. The friendly bacteria or lactobacilli keep the vagina in a healthy state and prevent the growth of pathogens like yeast.
Lactobacilli secrete lactic acid and maintain the slightly acidic pH level of the vaginal microflora. However, when there is a change in the normal composition of microorganisms in the vaginal microflora it can result in an altered vaginal microflora pattern.
Yeast is a fungus often found in the vagina in small numbers. When there is a change in the balance of microorganisms in the vagina, it creates an alkaline environment in which yeast cells can multiply rapidly. The multiplication of the yeast cells causes a yeast infection.
Yeast infections are typically treated with antifungal medications. While these medications can resolve the symptoms, they may recur. When the symptoms of a yeast infection return, it is usually because the vaginal microflora is in an altered state.
A shift in the bacterial milieu in the vagina can occur due to a variety of factors including, smoking, menopause, and lifestyle stress.
Symptoms Of Recurrent Yeast Infections
Common symptoms of recurrent yeast infections include itching, burning, abnormal discharge, and soreness.
Treatment For Recurrent Yeast Infections
When treating recurrent yeast infections, it’s necessary to identify if the vagina microflora is in an altered state. This can be done with the help of a vaginal fluid analysis (VFA) test.
The VFA test is an advanced diagnostic instrument developed by vulvovaginal specialist Dr. R. Stuart Fowler of Fowler GYN International (FGI). The VFA test provides a quantitative analysis of the constituents of the vaginal fluid.
If the VFA test detects an altered vaginal microflora pattern, the experts in vaginal health at FGI will design a customized treatment protocol for the patient. This protocol includes a combination of medications and hypocontactant hygiene products that will restore balance to the vaginal microflora.
When pH levels are once again slightly acidic, yeast cells will not multiply, and the symptoms of the infection will resolve. Patients generally notice an improvement in symptoms after 8-12 months on the treatment plan prescribed by FGI.
FGI recommends the use of hypocontactant hygiene products, as women with recurrent yeast infections often have sensitive external genital tissues.
Hypocontactant hygiene products do not contain chemical ingredients and fragrances that can irritate the tissues, and cause symptoms that mimic those of a yeast infection.