How To Treat Yeast Infections During Pregnancy
Rachel Gurevich is a fertility advocate, author, and recipient of The Hope Award for Achievement, from Resolve: The National Infertility Association. She is a professional member of the Association of Health Care Journalists and has been writing about womens health since 2001. Rachel uses her own experiences with infertility to write compassionate, practical, and supportive articles.
If you’re an adult woman, chances are you’ve had a yeast infection at some point in your life and know that it’s anything but fun. But did you know yeast infections occur more frequently in women who are pregnant?
Yeast infections are caused by an overgrowth of a normal fungus. About one-third of all women normally carry this fungus in their vaginas, and both men and women carry it in their digestive tracts.
During pregnancyparticularly in the second trimesterwomen become more susceptible to yeast problems. The increased risk during pregnancy is at least partially due to the increased estrogen circulating in a pregnant womans body.
While they’re annoying and uncomfortable, yeast infections are not harmful to your health. Unlike with other types of infections, you generally wouldn’t be prescribed antibiotics for a yeast infection .
A yeast infection will also not harm your baby, although they may still get yeast infections, no matter how or when they are born.
Coconut Oil For Yeast Infection
Coconut oil research has shown that it has anti-fungal properties and can be effective against Candida albicans.
In 2015, this study examined if coconut oil actually would reduce Candida albicans.
Then in 2007, a study done in Nigeria found that coconut oil fought off a range of fungal species.
Coconut oil should be used in the treatment of fungal infections in view of emerging drug-resistant Candida species.
So, how do I apply coconut oil to my vagina?
You can simply apply it straight to the affected area on the outside and a bit slightly inside.
You can also apply it to your tampons and inserting it in.
Before using coconut oil vaginally, a woman should check with her doctor.
What kind of coconut oil should I use?
Use the edible, pure and organic type. The list of ingredients should only say:
Pure coconut oil typically wont have a strong coconut smell.
Vaginal Yeast Infections During Pregnancy
If you develop a yeast infection during pregnancy, its important to understand the importance of choosing the right treatment. Talk to your healthcare professional if you are pregnant and develop a vaginal yeast infection. The CDC and health professionals recommend a 7-day vaginal cream for a yeast infection during pregnancy. The FDA issued a warning about the oral medication fluconazole in 20162. Using topical antifungal treatments like MONISTAT® during pregnancy is recommended. Again, talk to your healthcare professional.
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Yeast Infections In Pregnancy: Recommended Treatments
Michael Postelnick, BPharm
Which treatment options for vaginal yeast infections are safe and effective in the pregnant patient?
|Response from Michael Postelnick, BPharm Lecturer, Department of Medical Education, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine Senior Infectious Disease Pharmacist, Clinical Manager, Northwestern Memorial Hospital Department of Pharmacy, Chicago, Illinois
Vaginal candidiasis, commonly called “yeast infection,” is relatively common during pregnancy, with an estimated prevalence of 10%-75%. The patient usually presents with vulvar pruritus, burning, soreness, and irritation, with occasional dysuria.
Pregnancy causes increased levels of progesterone and estrogen. Progesterone suppresses the ability of neutrophils to combat Candida, and estrogen disrupts the integrity of vaginal epithelial cells against such pathogens as Candida and decreases immunoglobulins in vaginal secretions. These issues, which continue throughout pregnancy, lend themselves to multiple recurrences of infection.
Treatment is directed at symptom relief. Topical imidazoles are most commonly recommended. Although both miconazole and clotrimazole are available without a prescription, pregnant patients should never self-medicate and should only use these products under the direction of a healthcare provider.
Data in pregnancy for other topical antifungal agents are limited, making miconazole and clotrimazole the preferred topical agents in pregnancy.
Does An Untreated Yeast Infection During Pregnancy Affect The Baby
As mentioned, the likelihood of a yeast infection impacting your baby while in the womb is slim to none. However, if the infection is left untreated, you can pass it on to your baby during the delivery. When traveling through the birth canal, the yeast can be transferred to their mouth and throat. This can develop into oral thrush.
While most babies can be treated without complication, premature infants or those with compromised immune systems can suffer dangerous complications. However, even the healthiest of babies can struggle with breastfeeding when diagnosed with oral thrush due to the extreme discomfort. Thus, it is best to always address these types of symptoms the moment that they arise. As we all know, babies are on their own timetable so time is of the essence.
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Preventing A Vaginal Yeast Infection While Pregnant
If you are worried about or are prone to getting yeast infections while youre pregnant, there are some steps you can take to avoid them. Try avoiding unnecessary yeast infections by:
- Wearing breathable, cotton underwear
- Wiping from the front to the back after you go to the bathroom
- Removing damp clothes immediately after exercising or swimming
How To Prevent Yeast Infections
Consistently practicing good genital hygiene is the key to preventing vaginal yeast infections. Here are some ways to avoid yeast infection pregnancy symptoms:
- Avoid wearing tight bottoms and undergarments made of synthetic materials, especially overnight.
- Wear loose, cotton underwear to keep things dry and airy in the vaginal area
- Change out of workout garments, sweaty clothing, and wet swimsuits immediately.
- Avoid scented soaps and body washes, especially in the vaginal area
- Refrain from using scented toilet paper and scented sanitary napkins and tampons
- Always wipe from front to back
- Avoid added sugars in your diet
- Eat probiotic-rich foods, such as yogurt
- Maintain a healthy diet filled with fruits, vegetables, protein, and whole-grains
These methods of yeast infection pregnancy symptoms are avoidable when you take the proper precautions. But remember, there is usually no cause for concern because yeast infections during pregnancy are common and treatable overall.
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Other Infections During Pregnancy
Pregnancy causes many changes in the body, making people more susceptible to complications from many infections.
For example, hormone-related skin changes during pregnancy can cause conditions such as eczema or severely dry skin. If the skin cracks open and bleeds, a serious skin infection, such as cellulitis, can develop. A rare skin disorder called Sweetâs syndrome is also more common during pregnancy than at other times.
Some other infections that may be more serious during pregnancy
The increased risk of these infections during pregnancy is not well understood but may be due to hormone and other changes that alter the number of blood cells in the body. For example, late in pregnancy, T cells that help fight infection .
Pregnancy also causes increased blood circulation and demands on the heart. These demands can also worsen complications. For example, if a pregnant person develops pneumonia from the flu, they may have more difficulty breathing because of the increased demands the fetus places on the heart and lungs.
Some medications that can effectively treat common infections may be less safe during pregnancy. So it is essential that pregnant people who have an infection talk to their doctor or midwife to weigh up the benefits and risks of various treatment options.
Numerous infections can affect the developing baby. However, it is difficult for doctors to tell whether and to what extent a fetus will be affected.
When To Call Your Doctor
If you are experiencing a vaginal yeast infection during pregnancy and any of the following symptoms occur, we recommend advising your doctor for a more comprehensive treatment plan.
- If you are experiencing pain in the lower abdomen coupled with vaginal discharge and fever, this may be a sign of PID, and treatment will be necessary.
- If you are pregnant and begin to experience signs and symptoms of a UTI, or urinary tract infection, or other vaginal infection
- Unusual vaginal itching
- Unusual vaginal discharge, especially if a foul odor accompanies it
- Pain occurring with urination or penetration
- Symptoms persist after initial treatment and medication
- If symptoms recur within a couple of months from the first infection
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How Can I Prevent A Yeast Infection Or Recurring Yeast Infections
Most yeast infections can usually be avoided by doing the following:
- Wear loose, breathable cotton clothing and cotton underwear.
- After regular, thorough washing , use your blow dryer on a low, cool setting to help dry the outside of your genital area.
- Always wipe from front to back after using the restroom.
- Shower immediately after you swim. Change out of your swimsuit, workout clothes, or other damp clothes as soon as possible.
- use sanitary pads and tampons that contain deodorant
- take a bubble bath/use scented soaps
- use colored or perfumed toilet paper
Treating Bacterial Vaginosis Naturally During Pregnancy
Bacterial vaginosis is caused by several different types of bacteria. Many women dont experience any symptoms, but some may develop a white or grayish, fishy-smelling discharge. In some cases, the discharge may also appear frothy.
Unfortunately, bacterial vaginosis cannot be treated naturally. It is important to take action and contact your healthcare provider because bacterial vaginosis has been associated with preterm delivery, low-birth-weight infants, preterm/pre-labor membrane rupture, and late-term miscarriages.
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Your Yeast Infection Treatment Options
Expecting moms should make every effort to treat their yeast infection before the arrival of their little one.
This is because the infection can be passed to your baby through their mouth during delivery which will then give your baby a painful infection called thrush.
Over-the-counter yeast infection treatments can come in the form of a cream, ointment or a suppository .
Your doctor may recommend using a treatment like:
These products are safe for both mom and baby at any point during the pregnancy.
Be aware that there are some products which should not be taken while pregnant.
Make sure you advise your doctor that you are pregnant or that you might be pregnant.
A lot of moms who have experienced yeast infections while pregnant have tried natural remedies.
Is yogurt good for yeast infection? One of the most common natural remedies for yeast infections is yogurt and probiotics. They are considered good bacteria. These will restore the vaginas population of nice bacteria, like Lactobacillus.
One of the most popular is plain, unsweetened yogurt.
It can be effective because it contains the bacterium Lactobacillus acidophilus which is present in healthy vaginas.
There are a few ways you can apply this treatment, including:
- Squeezing it into the vaginal canal with a de-needled syringe or clean condiment bottle
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Tea Tree Oil For Yeast Infection
In one 2003 study, researches found that tea tree oil was an effective treatment for a common yeast infection. They learned that the oil was effective against all strains of the Candida albicans. They also confirmed this with rats. They were cleared after 3 weeks of using the oil.
Here the tea tree oil was only effective with:
- certain strains
- different concentrations
- a combination with OTC medications
Of course, it was agreed that more studies on us humans would need to be conducted before it can be totally recommended.
ALWAYS consult your doctor before trying any of these.
You can also use these tea tree oil suppositories.
How do you use tea tree oil on your yeast infection while pregnant?
You would need to use suppositories in order to get the oil inside to treat it.
You can also use a small mold to freeze the oil and insert that way instead.
I found this mixed solution and method over on MotherWise.
- 1 drop of pure tea tree oil
- 3 drops pure lavender oil
- 2 tablespoons of unrefined organic coconut oil
You can either just make small clumps, use a suppository or using an OTC suppository mold.
Of course, put the mixture into the mold then freeze it.
Insert it using your washed hands or using the applicator at the same time each day, probably best at night wearing a panty liner.
Do this once per day, for up to 6 days.
Should be relieved after a day though.
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How Is A Yeast Infection Diagnosed
After receiving a physical exam and reviewing signs and symptoms with your physician, the diagnosis will be confirmed or denied through a sample of vaginal discharge. Your doctor will check the sample for yeasts that cause infections, and more harmful types of yeast infections will also be ruled out during this time.
Treating A Vaginal Yeast Infection While Pregnant
You can treat a vaginal yeast infection with medication without putting your baby in harms way! Your healthcare provider may prescribe any of the following to treat your condition:
- Vaginal creams or suppositories
- Non-prescription medications like clotrimazole, terconazole, or miconazole.
- Anything that has been tested and proven to be safe for pregnant women.
How long does it take to get rid of a yeast infection while pregnant? It could take a few weeks for your yeast infection to go away completely, but many of the symptoms will go away after a few days.
Once you have the yeast infection under control, you might want to use a drying powder that is starch-free to help avoid future infections.
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How Can A Yeast Infection Be Prevented
Prevention is always better than cure. It is best to prevent the infection from happening in the first place rather than to cure the damage done by it. To prevent a yeast infection from happening, you should try to consume food that is rich in probiotics, or taking a supplement with cranberry in it might be of great help as well. Other than these, some other preventive measures are:
- avoiding very tight clothes
- saying yes to underwear made of pure cotton
- after a shower or a bath one should dry themselves thoroughly
- wet swimsuits should not be worn for too long
- must take foods that contain probiotics like yogurt, sauerkraut, etc
- steer clear of high levels of sugar in your diet
What Is Safe To Do As Far As Treatment While Pregnant
Generally, topical creams and ointments are safe to use while pregnant and oral medication should be avoided. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that only topical azole applied for at least 7 days to increase efficacy is accepted as safe for pregnancy. While the U.K.s National Health Servicerecommends creams or pessaries for treatment rather than oral medication.
Topical azole antifungals are well studied, commercially available, and do not require a physicians prescription.
This article, published by the College of Family Physicians of Canada, states that short-term use of a low-potency topical corticosteroids can be used for symptomatic relief and is considered safe to use in pregnancy.
Oral Fluconazole, on the other hand, should be avoided while pregnant. In this nationwide cohort studyin Denmark, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, use of oral fluconazole in pregnancy was associated with a statistically significant increased risk of spontaneous abortion compared with risk among unexposed women and women with topical azole exposure in pregnancy.
The 2016 study found that pregnant women who took oral fluconazole were 48 percent more likely to have a miscarriage than women who didnt take the drug.
It is of course always best to consult your doctor or midwife before treating yourself for a yeast infection. If left untreated, yeast infections can pass to your babys mouth during delivery. This is called thrush.
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How To Handle Yeast Infections When Pregnant
There is nothing more wonderful than bringing a new life into this world. However, there is nothing more frustrating than dealing with typical pregnancy symptoms and additional health issues that affect women. This article discusses how yeast infections can happen during pregnancy and how to handle it.
Possible Complications Of A Yeast Infection While Pregnant
If you have a vaginal yeast infection when you give birth, the baby can catch it. When the baby passes through the birth canal, it comes into contact with all the yeast fungi.
You can usually see symptoms of an oral yeast infection in infants by looking in their mouth. White, pillowy sores can be found on the tongue and inside the cheeks of infants infected with yeast fungi, also known as oral thrush.
This can cause issues, especially if the infant is breastfed. Oral thrush can cause your baby to resist feeding due to pain in the mouth. They can also spread it to the mother, causing extreme discomfort and pain in the nipples and breasts.
While uncomplicated oral thrush in infants is relatively common and easy to treat, it can be difficult to totally eliminate the fungus. Thats because the mother and infant can reinfect each other if one still carries the fungus, even after taking medication.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Yeast Infections
The symptoms of a yeast infection may include one or more of the following:
- Discharge that is usually white/tan in color, similar to cottage cheese and may smell like yeast/bread
- Other discharge may be greenish or yellowish, also similar to cottage cheese and may smell like yeast/bread
- An increase in discharge
- Burning sensation during urination or intercourse