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Why Yeast Infections Happen

Jun 18, 2008
Many people find yeast infections somewhat confusing and can't understand how they end up with one. It's often stated that you 'catch' them through sex but that's not strictly true.

To understand yeast infections you have to understand about your body. Your body is an ecosystem that supports a whole host of living micro-organisms including yeasts, bacteria and fungi. It doesn't matter how good your personal hygiene is these microscopic life forms will be there.

The thought of unseen organisms living on your body may seem unpleasant but it's a perfectly natural state. The human body is adapted to cope and sometimes benefit from such coexistence. However sometime changes to the body environment can create problems.

This is what happens when you have a yeast infection. What you are suffering from isn't really an infection where your body is suddenly invaded by something as happens when you catch a cold virus. Yeast infections are simply an overgrowth in your resident yeast population.

Yeasts can be found in or on the bodies of most people. They like areas that are both moist and warm which makes the vagina an obvious place but they live in many other places like the armpits. Normally they don't overgrow their environment because of some forms of good bacteria and the body's acidic pH levels.

The type of yeast that causes most problems is Candida Albicans. It is very opportunistic form that will quickly take advantage of changes that cause the body to become warmer or moister. If they breed quickly enough then they can swamp the good bacteria that normally keep them in check.

As their numbers increase their excretions begin to make the immediate environment more alkaline. This suits the yeasts who then begin to increase in number still further. If the numbers increase enough they will start to irritate the body and you end up with a yeast infection.

Your reaction to an overgrowth of yeast is down to individual tolerance levels. Some people react quickly while others can tolerate high levels of yeast overgrowth with few signs of irritation.

Causes of changes to the body environment include taking antibiotics as they are quite indiscriminate in the types of bacteria they kill off so "good" bacteria is killed off along with the bad. Getting hot and sweaty can also be enough to start off an attack for some people.

So despite what you read about 'catching' yeast infections coming into contact with yeasts like Candida Albicans doesn't automatically mean you'll get an infection. You need something else to happen to trigger off an attack.
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