Vaginal infections are a common complication of daily life. They’re uncomfortable, sometimes painful inconveniences that in most mild cases can go away with some at-home treatments. However, in extreme cases, when left untreated they can blossom into a more serious problem with lasting effects.
Vaginitis – This term covers a wide range of symptoms and conditions that can cause an infection or inflammation of the vagina, including yeast infections, bacterial vaginosis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea. While many of the symptoms of these conditions differ, it can be difficult to diagnose them because it’s possible to have more than one of these infections at a time.
Yeast Infection – Around 75% of women will have at least one yeast infection in their lives. In regular amounts, the fungus that causes yeast infections, candida albicans, is completely normal and exists within the mucous membranes of the vagina. However, when overproduced, the fungus can cause an infection.
- Mild to severe vaginal itching
- Thick, white discharge with a yeast or bread-like odor
- Swelling and irritation of the vulva
- A burning sensation during or after sexual intercourse and urination
Bacterial vaginosis – Scientists aren’t sure what exactly causes bacteria in the vagina to get out of balance. However, your chances of getting an infection like bacterial vaginosis are higher if you have more than one sexual partner, a new sexual partner, or if you douche.
Symptoms of bacterial vaginosis include:
- Grayish-white or yellow vaginal discharge
- A “fishy” smell to the discharge
However, about half of women with bacterial vaginosis don’t experience any symptoms.
Gonorrhea – Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted disease that both men and women can have. It typically causes pain in the genital tract but it can also cause problems in the rectum, throat, eyes, and joints. Gonorrhea is passed through intercourse, oral sex (both giving and receiving), and coming into contact with an infected area on another person’s body.
How Can an Infection Inhibit Conception?
If you are affected by infections once or twice a year that go away with home treatments, you probably won’t be affected by more serious problems that can go hand-in-hand with the infections.
However, repeated vaginal yeast infections can cause a disruption to the natural flora – or bacteria – of the vagina. This, in turn, could make it more difficult for sperm to reach the uterus. The sperm is not killed by the candida albicans itself but rather by changes in the cervical mucous caused by the out of balance bacteria and fungus associated with a yeast infection.
An imbalance in the vaginal flora could also leave you open to other infections and diseases which could leave you impaired for fertility later in your life. Yeast infections can even be passed on to your child if you have the infection when your baby is born.
An infection won’t directly affect your ability to conceive but it will probably discourage you from engaging in sexual intercourse due to the itchiness, irritation and stress of the situation. Consult your doctor before trying any home remedies for vaginal infections. If you are interested in learning more on your conception options or tips for conceiving, follow us on Facebook and Twitter, or sign up for our newsletter.