An infection happens when small, disease-causing germs (microbes) — such as viruses, fungi, or bacteria — live and grow in the body. Infections that commonly affect women include urinary tract infections, yeast infections, and sexually transmitted infections or diseases (STI/STDs), such as HPV, syphilis, gonorrhea, herpes, and chlamydia.
At Dignity Health, our gynecologists are highly experienced and can quickly diagnose and effectively treat a wide range of infections in the Bay Area. Find a Doctor who can provide quality, healing care to end uncomfortable symptoms.
What Causes Infections?
Viruses, bacteria, and fungi can all cause infections. Your immune system usually stops infections from making you sick. However, some things can make you more likely to develop an infection:
- Changes in hormone levels, such as those that occur during menopause and pregnancy
- Certain medical conditions, including diabetes or HIV
- Certain medications that treat one type of infection but increase your risk of another one; for example, antibiotics to kill bacteria can trigger yeast infections
- Decreased immunity caused by medical treatments, including chemotherapy, long-term steroid use, and immunosuppressant drugs
- Having a catheter, a tube to drain urine from bladder
- Sexual activity, diaphragms for birth control, or sex toys, which can push or introduce germs into the reproductive and urinary tracts
Symptoms vary based on the type, severity, and location of the infection. Common symptoms include redness, inflammation, swelling, and pain. Some, but not all, infections may cause fever.
Infection Treatment at Dignity Health
Most infections of a woman’s urinary or reproductive tract are due to fungus or bacteria, so Dignity Health doctors use antifungal or antibiotic medications to treat them. These treatments may be taken by mouth, inserted into the vagina, or applied directly to the genital area. Timely treatment of infections can relieve discomfort and improve overall health. If not treated, some infections can cause infertility.
Good hygiene practices can help prevent many infections. They include:
- Changing out of wet undergarments and clothing as soon as possible
- Urinating after sex
- Wearing cotton underwear
- Wiping from front to back after using the toilet
If you experience frequent infections, talk to you doctor about other strategies to reduce your risk and stay healthy. Dignity Health offers treatment and prevention services for a range of infections in the Bay Area, including San Francisco, Santa Cruz, and Redwood City.