Yeast Infection Complications

Eileen Bailey | Sep 14th 2016 Apr 10th 2017

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Yeast infections might seem trivial, more a nuisance than a serious health problem. While that is true most of the time, you should be aware of potential complications.

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Symptoms of a yeast infection include a white vaginal discharge resembling cottage cheese and burning, irritation and redness of the vaginal area. With more severe yeast infections, you might have swelling of the lips of the vagina.

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Untreated yeast infections can sometimes get into the bloodstream. This is called candidemia. It is one of the most common bloodstream infections in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control.

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Invasive candidiasis occurs when the yeast infection affects other parts of the body including the blood, brain, and heart. This normally happens when an open sore is exposed to a yeast infection, and it isn’t usually related to vaginal yeast infections. With invasive candidiasis, you might have a fever and chills. It can cause serious health complications if not promptly treated.

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Some people have treatment-resistant Candida yeast infections. Normally, a yeast infection should clear up in seven to 14 days with treatment. If your infection does not, you should contact your doctor to confirm your diagnosis and for further treatment.

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Some women experience recurrent yeast infections, sometimes getting yeast infections several times per year. Some find yeast infections occur at or around their monthly period because of hormonal fluctuations. If you have recurrent yeast infections, your doctor might suggest taking maintenance medications for six months to prevent them from returning.

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Many women develop yeast infections during pregnancy due to changing hormones and pH in the vagina. Treatments for yeast infections during pregnancy are limited to vaginal creams or suppositories. It might take longer — between 10 and 14 days — for a yeast infection to clear up during pregnancy. Oral yeast infection medications have not been proven safe during pregnancy.

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Untreated yeast infections can lead to additional health problems. The area around your vagina might become inflamed, sore, or cracked. This can lead to skin infections. A long-term yeast infection can result in a lowered immune system and increase the chance that the yeast infection can spread to other parts of the body.

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Some rare side effects of an untreated yeast infection include headaches, mood swings, mouth problems (thrush), fatigue, and gastrointestinal problems.

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Yeast infections can change the pH level in your vagina, which can lead to difficulty conceiving. Sperm require a specific pH to survive, and the yeast infection could cause sperm to die before reaching the uterus or fallopian tube.

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Recurrent or severe yeast infections can interfere with your monthly cycle. Yeast infections can cause your body to produce a false estrogen. Some women experience worsening of menstrual cramps or a disruption to their period.

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If you believe you have a yeast infection, you should contact your doctor. Even if you are receiving treatment, should you experience nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, fever, or chills, you should immediately call your doctor.