Yeast Infections During Pregnancy: Symptoms, Prevention & Treatment

pregnant bellyIn addition to swollen ankles, mood swings that rival Gary Busey's, and the delightful experience of having to urinate every 12 minutes, women are more prone to yeast infections during pregnancy than any other time, particularly during the second trimester. "Most women have one or two episodes of yeast infection in pregnancy," says Daniel Roshan, M.D., a high-risk OB/GYN in New York City. The culprit? Hormonal changes, including higher levels of estrogen, which make it easier than usual for yeast to grow there.

Although uncomfortable, yeast infections during pregnancy aren't usually a big cause for concern. But as with any gestational health issue, there are some things you should know.

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The Symptoms: Yeast infections during pregnancy don't differ very much from those that occur when you're not pregnant. They're pretty easy to spot due the fact that they can make you really itchy and uncomfortable. That said, it's always a good idea to visit your health care practitioner when something doesn't seem right during pregnancy to make sure you get an accurate diagnosis. Most doctors can spot a yeast infection with a simple exam, but sometimes they'll use a swab to remove discharge and view it through a microscope. Symptoms include: white, greenish, or yellowish cottage cheese-like discharge that may smell bad; an unusual amount of discharge; redness, itching, or irritation; burning during urination or sex.

The Danger Factor: "Although the itching and burning of yeast infections are annoying, they are not harmful to mothers or babies," says Dr. Roshan. Caveat: If you have a yeast infection when you go into labor, your baby could contract it in her mouth, also know as thrush. Thrush is easily treated and isn't considered serious.

Tips for Prevention: "Wearing white cotton underwear, having good sex hygiene, eating yogurt and garlic, and minimizing sugar intake are all recommended for preventing yeast infections," says Dr. Roshan. Other things that may keep yeast infections at bay include:

  • Using your blow dryer on a low, cool setting to help dry between your legs after a shower
  • Always wiping from front to back after using the restroom
  • Showering immediately after swimming, and changing out of swimsuits and workout clothes right away
  • Getting plenty of rest to make it easier for your body to fight infections

Treatment Options: If you think you have a yeast infection, your doctor can give you a prescription medication or recommend a specific over-the-counter anti-fungal cream or suppository. Typically, the seven-day suppositories are used during pregnancy as opposed to the shorter course ones. Infections may take between 10 to 14 days to completely clear up. In the meantime, get some relief by soaking in a cool bath or by using an ice pack.

Did you ever have a yeast infection during pregnancy? What treatments worked for you?

 

Image via Eugene Luchinin/Flickr

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