Healthcare Technology Featured Article

February 04, 2022

Evvy Outlines the Facts: Is It a Yeast Infection or Something Else?




Every woman has been there at some point in their lives. Your vaginal discharge seems off, or there’s an itching sensation down below. Your mind might go straight to yeast infection — but that’s not always the culprit!

In fact, yeast infections can often be misdiagnosed. Studies show that two out of three women who buy yeast infection medicine don't really have a yeast infection. Plus, up to 20% of all yeast infections may be asymptomatic, according to Jessica Shepherd M.D., who spoke to glamour.com about the health issue.

The team at Evvy, an innovative new vaginal health startup, breaks down the many conditions that can masquerade as a yeast infection, and how to better identify the signs of a yeast infection vs. other common conditions.

Bacterial Vaginosis

A woman’s vaginal microbiome can be thrown off by several variables, including sex and menstruation. Vaginal discharge with a pungent fishy odor and an off-white, gray, or greenish hue is a common sign of bacterial vaginosis. Bacterial vaginosis is the most common vaginal health issue in women between the ages of 15 and 44, as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). While yeast infections are typically treated with an antifungal medication, self.com reports a patient may require antibiotics to rid their body of bacterial vaginosis.

Cytolytic Vaginosis

According to evvy.com, cytolytic vaginosis  develops when a certain type of healthy bacteria within the vagina, called lactobacilli, overgrow. Women with cytolytic vaginosis are commonly misdiagnosed with a yeast infection because the symptoms can be similar — such as thick white discharge or itchiness. Since cytolytic vaginosis doesn’t respond to antifungal medications, the team at Evvy recommends patients see a doctor if symptoms similar to a yeast infection persist even after taking medications.

Allergic Reaction (Contact Dermatitis)

Soreness, itching, and even burning can happen if the skin on one’s vulva comes into contact with certain soaps, fragrances, lubes, or lotions. Frequently, scented versions of these products can disrupt the vaginal microbiome, according to experts at Evvy. Contact dermatitis can also be triggered by sexual activity that involves latex, and ingredients in lube.

Sexually Transmitted Infection

Genital warts, herpes, trichomoniasis, and gonorrhea can cause vaginal irritation that can be mistaken for a yeast infection. According to Evvy.com, Gonorrhea may produce yellowish vaginal discharge, but most people with gonorrhea won’t experience itchiness until it spreads to the rectum. Alarmingly, about half of cisgender women infected with gonorrhea are symptomless, so routine sexually transmitted infection (STI) checkups for those who are sexually active are imperative. Trichomoniasis, which is caused by a parasite, can cause yellowish-green vaginal discharge — or no symptoms. If one suspects they have an STI, the team at Evvy recommends seeking medical attention immediately.

Hemorrhoids

Hemorrhoids can cause itching in the perianal area, so the condition may be confused with a yeast infection. However, hemorrhoids do not cause abnormal vaginal discharge.

Decrease in Estrogen Levels

As a woman ages, her estrogen levels take a dive, leading to vaginal symptoms that can be misread as a yeast infection. The team at Evvy suggests doing regular vaginal microbiome swabs to get a better understanding of how bacteria or yeast is increasing or decreasing over time. Webmd.com advises menopausal women to consult their doctor about a vaginal lubricant to reduce friction or possibly even taking a small dose of estrogen to counteract this issue.

How Evvy’s Vaginal Microbiome Test Can Help

Evvy’s at-home vaginal microbiome test optimizes wellness and tracks a woman’s vaginal microbiome over time, helping women decode their vaginal microbiome with personalized reports and health recommendations. Evvy’s co-founders Priyanka Jain and Laine Bruzek dealt with ongoing vaginal health questions before creating Evvy to provide the necessary answers. Bruzek personally experienced recurrent infections for several years and was prescribed a merry-go-round of antibiotics before the duo decided to develop a way for women to take vaginal health into their own hands. Evvy’s test involves a simple Q-tip swab of the vagina.

“It takes less than 30 seconds to complete,” Bruzek says. “It allows anyone to discover the levels of bacteria and fungi in their vagina and how those are associated with vaginal infections and issues such as infertility, preterm birth, and STI acquisition.” Jain points out that Evvy’s at-home test kits are for anyone who wants to learn more about their vagina or anyone with recurrent symptoms searching for answers. It can also be helpful for those in menopause who are on a roller-coaster ride of hormonal changes. “Our mission is to close the gender health gap,” Jain says. “There’s so much about the female body we still don’t understand. Women are still diagnosed on average four years later than men across more than 770 diseases.”

Jain points out that most decisions in the healthcare system were based on datasets centered around middle-aged, midsize men. Through Evvy, she and Bruzek are working to reset the way data on the female body is studied and leveraged in the healthcare system.

Jain and Bruzek aim to help women become their own advocates at their doctors’ offices through at-home testing and science-grounded education.

The ‘Evvy’-lution

After meeting as undergrads at Stanford, Jain and Bruzek quickly realized they not only work well together, but they also shared an excitement for building the future of women’s health. “We’re really boots on the ground in the community, making sure we’re doing right by the people we’re trying to help,” Bruzek says.

With a background in data science and artificial intelligence, Jain wants to bring transparency in data collection to healthcare so women can receive a proper diagnosis faster.

“It feels like every woman has a story where she was misdiagnosed or misunderstood at the doctor’s office,” Jain says. “Women are told things like they’re ‘too stressed’, and not given real answers on what’s going on. Since women weren’t required to be in clinical research in the US until 1993, it’s important to re-examine what metrics of health we think are important through the lens of female-specific biomarkers.”

Jain suggests that the knowledge gained from an Evvy’s test could save women money and time in the long run. “The cost of repeated antibiotics, antifungals, and probiotics add up over time,” Jain said. “It’s time for women to break that cycle.”









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