The odds you’ll get a yeast infection increase during pregnancy. They’re especially likely to happen in your seconds trimester when hormonal changes cause the vaginal environment to be more hospitable to yeast. Even though yeast infections may feel serious and cause you serious discomfort, they’re not dangerous and don’t pose any risk to your baby. Some symptoms of a yeast infection can be mistaken for changes in your vaginal fluid, so be sure to ask your doctor right away if you suspect an infection so she can confirm and start treatment as necessary.
If you’ve ever had a yeast infection when you weren’t pregnant, the symptoms are the same. If you’ve never had one, you’ll notice a thick, white discharge, sometimes resembling cottage cheese. This discharge may smell like bread and you may have a large amount of it. It intermittently carries a yellow or green tint. Perhaps the worst symptoms of a yeast infection are the vaginal itching and irritation. This can range from mild to severe enough to make you pull your hair out. Irritation can be worsened by urination or having sex.
You don’t have to worry about yeast infections adversely affecting your pregnancy, according to the American Pregnancy Association. Yeast naturally occur all over and inside of your body and an overgrowth, while annoying, isn’t a serious medical condition. Even if you seem to have a yeast infection the entire nine months of your pregnancy, this still won’t affect your baby’s growth and development. You can introduce yeast to your baby’s mouth during birth, but this condition can be easily treated with medication.
Hormonal changes that occur all throughout your pregnancy have the potential to change the pH level of your vagina. When your vagina is naturally more acidic, the acid keeps yeast microorganisms in check. Your vaginal secretions may also contain higher amounts of sugar than normal during pregnancy. Yeast feed, thrive and multiply when there’s abundant sugar in your secretions. Sometimes even having sex during pregnancy is enough to change your vaginal environment in favor of a yeast overgrowth.
Most over-the-counter and prescription anti-fungal creams and suppositories that contain miconazole or clotrimazole are safe to use during pregnancy, according to MayoClinic.com. Pills commonly used to treat yeast infections may not be safe to use during pregnancy and should be avoided. Call your doctor before using any over-the-counter yeast infection medication to be certain it’s safe and determine if you might use a more effective prescription remedy as an alternative treatment.
Some other conditions can have similar symptoms to yeast infections. A bacterial infection called bacterial vaginosis, or BV, causes increased discharge and vaginal irritation in some women. Your doctor may recommend you get tested for sexually transmitted diseases like chlamydia and gonorrhea to rule out all types of infection. Recurring yeast infections are most likely related to pregnancy changes, but for some women, they can indicate immune system problems or medical conditions like diabetes. Keep your health care provider in the loop to rule out other health problems that could potentially affect your baby.