The excessive usage of antibiotics combined with the moist condition around the vaginal area can lead to yeast infections in women, a condition which can lead to pelvic inflammatory diseases, Dr Tarirai Gwatikunda told The Villager.
“One thing which causes yeast infections is the unnecessary use of antibiotics, which kills the needed bacteria in the vagina,” he said, adding that yeast infections cannot multiply in the vulva when the normal bacteria (bacteria which are meant to be in the vagina and are not harmful) are at the needed level.
He said only a few women understand that the extensive use of antibiotics can cause yeast infections, which infections are caused when a woman’s private parts are kept wet for long.
Fungi favour wet or moist conditions, hence women can get yeast infections easily.
“Yeast infections can actually infect the inside of the vagina up to the cervix,” he explained, adding that men can also get yeast infections, mostly those who are not circumcised.
Human beings have fungi in their private parts, and those fungi can, if weakened, unnecessarily generate additional fungi due to the moisture around the private parts (vagina or under the foreskin of the penis).
Gwatikunda said about 95 per cent of people having yeast infections are women.
He said sometimes women might think that they have acquired it through unprotected sexual intercourse, while they haven’t done sex for even 3 months. The medical practitioner said most women would show up, saying they got infections after using toilets.
“Many women would associate yeast infections with sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and some might think they had acquired it from dirty toilets, which is not factual at all,” the expert continued.
Some women can also get yeast infections before or after their periods.
“It is so because periods sometimes shift PH, the scale of acidity and alkalinity (healthy vaginal pH is between 3.8 and 4.5), and due to the wetness caused by blood and the usage of foreign things like tampons and other foreign objects,” he said.
Yeast infections are also more likely to develop in someone who is on prolonged medical treatment.
“To avoid yeast infections, women should stop wearing tight pants which are not able to absorb moisture when their private parts starts to sweat”, the medical practitioner said, adding that yeast infections can sometimes likewise be caused by trauma.
“It happens that when a lady has not met with her boyfriend for too long, when they meet they do things in a rough way, and this leads to bruises in the vulva, which later leads to itching and yeast infections,” he explained.
“Women who are detected with yeast infections are advised to wear pants which are made of cotton because it can absorb more moisture whenever the vagina sweats,” he urged.
Immune suppression can also cause yeast infections. If an individual is infected with a disease like HIV/AIDS, he/she is likely to be burdened with yeast infections.
Gwatikunda said women with high blood sugar (also known as diabetes) are also more likely to get yeast infections.
Yeast infections can lead to discomfort, and if not treated on time, one can get swelling and develop redness in the vaginal area.
“When you are infected with yeast infection, it is most likely to invite other harmful bacterial because the yeast infections are weakening the private parts, and you can get what is called Bacterial Super-Infection,” he said, adding that one could develop pelvic inflammatory diseases later.
Untreated yeast infections might even lead to miscarriages.
The doctor said Namibian women have the habit of abusing antibiotics, even for minor illnesses like flu.
“Some people are obsessed with cleaning their private parts, and even end up buying detergents just to clean their vagina, which is really not necessary,” he stressed.
He said the normal cleaning of the vagina is enough, rather than the regular washing per day which might cause bruises inside. A lot of women are also shying away from wearing cotton pants, going after the fancy plastic ones.
Meanwhile, Gwatikunda said there is no linkage between endometriosis and yeast infections.
Endometriosis is a common condition in which small pieces of the womb lining (the endometrium) are found outside the womb.