Updated: Sep 24, 2022
By: Dr. Alyssa Dweck, OB/GYN & Monistat Ambassador
When a woman first becomes pregnant, she often experiences a range of emotions – from happiness and excitement about the new baby she is welcoming into the world to apprehension and worry about the unknown changes that will not only occur in her life but within her body. As I’ve met with my pregnant patients through the years, I’ve come to realize that while many know about the common bodily changes that happen during pregnancy, like morning sickness, tender breasts, fatigue, and cravings – most don’t realize that irritating issues like yeast infections are quite common. Yeast infections happen during pregnancy in part because of hormone changes that occur in the body, which can disrupt the pH balance of the vagina and upset the delicate vaginal microbiome.
While some of my pregnant patients can spot the symptoms of a yeast infection from previous diagnoses, there are others who never had a yeast infection before and become confused and concerned when they spot the changes in their body. What I often tell all mothers-to-be to look out for when trying to determine if they have a yeast infection are five common signs – a white, thick discharge, itching on the external opening and internal areas of the vagina, the absence of a foul fishy odor, redness on the vulva or vagina and swelling of the vaginal tissue.
Not only is being able to identify a yeast infection during pregnancy important, but it is also crucial that women understand how to properly and safely treat one – especially during pregnancy. According to a recent study from The British Medical Journal (BMJ), pregnant women who were prescribed the oral pill cure for yeast infection had a higher risk of miscarriage and potential congenital heart malformation when taken in the first trimester of pregnancy. For this reason, I follow the CDC recommendation and advise my pregnant patients to treat vaginal yeast infections with a safe and trusted over-the-counter antifungal like Monistat 7-Day Yeast Infection Cure. Monistat 7 can effectively treat multiple yeast strains and can be easily purchased at any mass-market retailer, drugstore and even online. In fact, even if a patient isn’t pregnant or trying to get pregnant, I recommend Monistat to not only ensure they can safely treat the infection, but also because it relieves yeast infection symptoms four times faster than the oral pill cure.
I also suggest all patients concerned about yeast consider the following preventative measures to avoid disrupting their vaginal pH balance. Everything from what we eat to what we wear can have an impact on our vaginal health so it’s important keep lifestyle habits in mind when trying to achieve optimal wellness.
First, think carefully about your diet. I suggest minimizing sugar and alcohol intake as both can influence the vaginal microbiome, especially for those women prone to yeast. Women can also consider a daily probiotic focusing on women’s health or try to eat foods with live cultures, such as yogurt, that contain Lactobacillus bacteria (good bacteria), which helps to maintain and restore a healthy yeast balance in the vagina.
Be mindful of anything that contacts your intimate skin. Consider a cotton crotch and underwear fabric that is breathable. Ill-fitting garments made with nonbreathable fabrics can constrict the vaginal area and trap heat and moisture, which can promote infection. Get out of wet workout clothes or bathing suits as soon as possible since yeast and bacteria thrive in moist, dark conditions. Additionally, aim for little to no fragrance soaps, body washes, wipes, laundry detergents and fabric softeners if you are sensitive.
Apart from pregnancy, other factors can influence your chances of getting a yeast infection including antibiotic use, poorly controlled diabetes and general hormone fluctuations. Listen to your body. If you think you may have a yeast infection, but aren’t sure, check out the Monistat “Symptom Checker” tool on their site and call your gynecologist to share any concerns.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Alyssa Dweck, MD FACOG, is a practicing gynecologist in Westchester County, New York. She received her Medical Degree from Hahnemann University (now Drexel University). Dr. Dweck is a brand ambassador for Monistat and co-author of three books, including “The Complete A to Z for Your V,” a comprehensive guide to all things vaginal health. She hopes to remove some of the mystery and taboo surrounding many gynecologic issues in a humorous and chatty but medically sound and up-to-date “V” guide.
Dr. Dweck has a special interest and expertise in female sexual health and medical sex therapy. She also has served on the medical advisory board of Hope’s Door, a shelter from Domestic Violence, and is a medical consultant for, Stepup-Speakout.org, a web community dedicated to resources and support for breast cancer-related lymphedema.