Pregnancy is a time when a pregnant woman is susceptible to different types of infections, mainly due to low immune levels. However, the last thing you want to deal with is ‘itchy’ vaginal yeast infection. Unfortunately, vaginal yeast infection, also called vaginal thrush is one of the common problems during pregnancy. But the good news is that though vaginal thrush may cause a lot of irritation to the expecting mother, it will not affect the healthy progression of pregnancy or the baby in the womb.
What Is Vaginal Thrush?
Thrush refers to a fungal infection. Candida albicans, a kind of fungal yeast causes this infection as it commonly develops in the areas of the body that are warm and moist like the intestinal tract, vagina or mouth. The pregnant woman might already have this fungus in the vaginal area without her knowing it. This fungus is harmless and the good bacteria present in vagina helps to keep this fungus under control. The fungus becomes problematic when there are inadequate good bacteria to regulate its growth. In the absence of the good bacteria, the Candida grows fast and thrives, resulting in the most irritating condition that troubles the pregnant woman – the vaginal thrush.
Causes Of Vaginal Thrush
As we mentioned above, Candida fungus is the reason of vaginal thrush during pregnancy. The thriving fungus and lower good bacteria upsets the natural balance of the vagina resulting in vaginal thrush. Some of the main causes of this are:
- Antibiotics: The antibiotics that are taken prior to or in course of pregnancy to treat some bacterial infection can also result in the reduction of the good bacteria that controls the growth of Candida. This results in vaginal thrush
- Nutritional deficiency: Nutritional deficiency that happens due to poor eating as a result of morning sickness or unhealthy craving during pregnancy can result in vaginal thrush
- Gestational diabetes: Gestational diabetes that results in the increased blood sugar level increases the chances of vaginal thrush as these yeasts thrive on sugar medium. In fact, recurring vaginal thrush is one of the important symptoms of gestational diabetes
- Stress: Stress during pregnancy is one of the significant factors that triggers vaginal thrush
- Unhealthy diet and lifestyle: Eating food with high sugar, carbonated drinks, drinking beverages with caffeine, drinking alcohol, smoking etc. increases the chances of vaginal thrush
Other factors that increase the chances of vaginal thrush during pregnancy are:
- Increased estrogen level: The increased estrogen level during pregnancy results in thriving of Candida fungus. This is because a form of glucose called glycogen, which is present in the vagina is directly proportional to the estrogen level. Candida literally thrives on the glycogen, resulting in vaginal thrush
- Reduced acidity: The pH level of a healthy vagina is between 4.0 to 4.5, which is too acidic and prevents the fungus to multiply. However, during pregnancy, due to hormonal fluctuation the acid levels in the vagina lowers. This, along with excess glycogen can result in the excessive fungal growth in the vagina
What Are The Symptoms Of Vaginal Thrush During Pregnancy?
Some of the important symptoms of vaginal thrush are:
- Changes in vaginal discharge: Though increased vaginal discharge is very common in the course of pregnancy, normally it should be thin and milky. If the discharge thickens and appears creamy white with or without odor, you can expect vaginal thrush.
- Burning sensation: Stinging or burning sensation during urination or, pain during intercourse can be a sign of vaginal thrush
- Itching: Developing itching and soreness in or around the vagina or the vagina appearing reddish with itching are the symptoms of vaginal thrush
How Is Vaginal Thrush Diagnosed?
The doctor will diagnose vaginal thrush after listening to the symptoms and possibly doing a vaginal examination. During the examination, the doctor may take a vaginal swab to look for the yeast under a microscope. This helps to confirm vaginal thrush.
Are There Any Preventive Measures For Vaginal Thrush?
Even though you cannot control the hormonal causes, there are certain steps to prevent vaginal thrush:
- Use cotton undergarments, which allow free airflow, thereby preventing dampness in and around the vaginal area
- Avoid using tight-fitting pants, as this makes a damp, warm environment that supports the multiplication of yeast
- Wash undergarments in hot water, preferably with non-bio detergent. Rinse thoroughly more than three times to make sure there are no remains of detergent
- Avoid bubble bath
- Never spray water directly to the vagina
- Never use perfumed products like talc, soaps, deodorant etc. near the vaginal area
What Are The Treatment Options For Vaginal Thrush?
Usually, if vaginal thrush appears during the first trimester, the doctor will wait until the mother gets into the second trimester before starting the treatment. However, there are numerous natural remedies, which help you to treat thrush safely during pregnancy. But do consult the doctor before trying out any natural remedies or over the counter anti-thrush medications. Also, never at any point, take an oral medicines as it can be harmful to the growing fetus. Always complete the course as the chances of reoccurring of the vaginal thrush is pretty high during pregnancy. Some of the treatment options include:
- Vaginal pessaries: These are soluble capsules or a tablet that are inserted into the vagina to treat infections. If your doctor prescribes this, keep in mind that, you are dealing with the area near to the cervix, the neck of the uterus. Therefore, do not use the applicator, instead gently insert with your fingers with as less pressure as possible
- Practice a healthy lifestyle and consume a healthy diet
- Eat lots of plain yogurt as yogurt contains the ‘good’ bacteria, lactobacilli, which is known to prevent vaginal thrush
- Take measures to boost your immune system
- Sometimes the doctor prescribes an anti-thrush cream. Apply it as instructed by the doctor
- Garlic is a popular home remedy to treat vaginal thrush. Insert a peeled garlic clove into the vagina during the bedtime and remove it in the morning. This is very effective in treating vaginal thrush