RECURRENT YEAST INFECTIONS AND STIS: ASK C+S
A year ago I got my very first yeast infection and ever since, it seems like I get one every month. If I have sex and I’m too sleepy to clean up, bam, automatic yeast infection. During a recent pelvic exam, my clinician said I just naturally had high amounts of natural bacteria. So is this why my infections seems recurrent? It’s speculated a previous partner had chlamydia. Should I be worried about anything more serious because of this?
The vaginal microbiome, a community of friendly and sometimes pathogenic microorganisms, is influenced by the intestinal microbiome, and, if you have sex with men, the penile microbiome. Because many of us are exposed to antibiotics growing up, or were born by C-section, or don't always eat enough vegetable fiber, our microbiomes may become less than optimal, making it harder for us through our native immunity to resist infection. Interestingly, the penile microbiome can cause a shift in vaginal flora, which can lead to Bacterial Vaginosis (BV), an alkaline, inflammatory vaginal infection often associated with discharge and odor. BV can be mistaken for yeast infections, or may even coexist with yeast to further confuse the situation.
So, the first thing to do is to not just get vaginal cultures, but to have a microscope exam called a Wet Mount plus DNA testing of your vaginal microbiome to see which varieties of yeast, bacteria, and normal flora comprise your community. Something that can help regardless of the situation is acidifying the vaginal environment. The normal vaginal pH is in the 4 to 4.5 range. Boric acid suppositories and vinegar douches are two strategies to help lower the vaginal pH, discouraging BV and yeast.
It's even more complicated when you add gonorrhea and chlamydia to the story. I advise my patients who are either sexually active with multiple partners or otherwise susceptible to STDs to use condoms, rather than the IUD, as there are some people who seem to have chronic bacterial overgrowth so long as the IUD is present.
Dr. Eden Fromberg
Board Certified Obstetrician/Gynecologist and Board Certified Integrative Holistic Medicine Practitioner. Founder & Director of Holistic Gynecology NY.
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