What Causes Vaginal Infections (With Diabetes) And What Are The Best Treatments?

Dr. Dokken answers the question: 'What Causes Vaginal Infections In Diabetics?'

ByBetsy Dokken, Ph.D., N.P., Section of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Hypertension, Sarver Heart Center at the University of Arizona College of Medicine

— -- Question: What causes vaginal infections (with diabetes) and what are the best treatments?

Answer: Women with diabetes are at higher risk for developing vaginal infections than women without diabetes, and, in addition, if the woman's diabetes is not well controlled and her blood sugars are consistently high, that creates an environment of high sugar in the mucus membranes, and of course, that includes the vagina, and this creates a good environment for the overgrowth of both bacteria and yeast. So, those are the two main areas of infection, the two main causes of infection -- vaginal infection in women -- are bacteria and yeast.

If it's a bacterial infection, the woman would need an antibiotic for treatment, and a yeast infection can be treated with anti-fungal agents. So it's important for a woman to see her primary care provider or gynecologist to have this condition diagnosed as probably one or the other.

The caveat is, if a woman has had a yeast infection recently and the identical symptoms come back, and she's very confident that it's another yeast infection, she might be able to use an over-the-counter cream or suppository to treat that infection. And, in addition, if the yeast infection is recurrent, she could ask her health care provider for a prescription for an oral anti-fungal agent like fluconazole.

But the most important thing is that a woman with diabetes is at higher risk for these vaginal infections when the blood sugar level is out of control, so it becomes critically important, then, to treat these infections with better blood sugar control.

Next: How Do Hormonal Fluctuations During My Menstrual Cycle Affect My Blood Sugar Levels?

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