Also known as candidiasis and thrush, vaginal yeast infections occur in an estimated 75 percent of all women at some point in their lives. They’re probably among the most common infections being asked to treat.
Your body contains billions of different organisms, most of them essential to health, and may perfectly harmless. One of these normally harmless organisms is the fungus Candida albicans, which in a healthy body is kept in check by billions of beneficial bacteria. However, if an imbalance occurs, in particular in the body’s natural acid-alkaline balance, levels of beneficial bacteria fall and organisms such as Candida albicans begin to thrive. When the Candida albicans fungus takes over, the result is a vaginal yeast infection.
The most obvious sign that you have a yeast infection is a sticky, white discharge from your vagina, not associated with your usual menstrual cycle (its yeasty smell will give it away). Itching, and soreness during lovemaking and urinating are also tell-tale signs.
Consider your lifestyle or other factors that might have led to the condition. Thrush often occurs if you’re run down, under stress, taking antibiotics or hormone medication (such as the Pill or HRT), or if you’re pregnant. However, even if all the pieces of the jigsaw fit and you think you almost certainly have a yeast infection, it’s important to visit your doctor to confirm the diagnosis and rule out anything more serious, including cervical cancer.
Your local pharmacy will be able to sell you any number of antifungals to treat a yeast infection. Although it’s perfectly commonplace to buy antifungals in this way, I wouldn’t recommend it. The symptoms of yeast infection can also be the symptoms of other vaginal infections, and you must make sure you take the right treatment. Always visit your doctor. Although he or she may prescribe you with the very thing you’d have bought anyway, at least you’ll know that you’re treating your condition properly.
Oral treatments You may be a given single-dosage oral treatment, which will contain fluconazole, and antifungal. The benefit of this form of treatment is that it takes only one dose to treat the problem. However, side-effects include milk nausea, abdominal pain, diarrhea, flatulence, and rashes.
Creams and pessaries Topical treatment is one of the easiest ways to overcome a vaginal yeast infection. Your doctor may prescribe an antifungal cream, which you rub onto your vagina, or a course of pessaries, which you insert into your vagina. Always finish the course otherwise the yeast overgrowth can easily take hold again.
Your body already has a yeast overload, so try to keep out all foods that contain yeast or are made using it – from bread to Champagne. In addition, the levels of good bacteria in your vagina are in part estrogen-dependent. This means that it’s crucial you get your hormones in balance by following the hormone-balancing diet. In particular, try to cut out sugar in all its forms, such as that added to foods and drinks, as well as sugar in cakes, candy, and other refined foods. While you have the yeast infection, it’s better to avoid fruit juice, which is high in fruit sugar and low in fiber. Sugar is food for yeasts and bacteria, so a diet that is high in sugar can only hamper your body’s attempts to overcome an infection.
A good food to eat if you suffer from a yeast infection is organic yogurt with active cultures. This yogurt is an important source of beneficial bacteria that can help overcome yeast overgrowth. You can apply it topically to your vagina, too, if you like.
Garlic contains a compound called allicin, which research shows has known antimicrobial and antifungal properties and even, specifically, can help the body fight candida overgrowth. Raw garlic provides the greatest therapeutic benefit, so chop it finely into salad dressings or chew on a raw clove each day. (Alternatively, you can take it as an herbal supplement. Take 1,000mg aged garlic, daily).
Account for the contents of your multi-vitamins and minerals when suing the following supplements.
• Beta-carotene Many women with thrush are deficient in this nutrient.
• Zinc A potent immunity booster, zinc is often deficient in women with thrush. Take it as zinc citrate.
• FOS All fruits and vegetables contain the water-soluble fiber fructooligosaccharides (FOS), which is a pre-biotic – a food source that promotes the growth of friendly bacteria in your system. You can sprinkle the supplement form of this important nutrient on food.
• Omega – 3 Fatty Acids Omega-3 oils are antifungal.
• Probiotics This supplement actively fights infection by re-colonizing your body with good bacteria. Vaginal pessaries that contain probiotics work well, too.
Use salt Adding a handful of sea salt to your bathwater or washing yourself in a salt solution can help soothe irritation and itching in the vagina.
Hang loose If you want to overcome – or prevent – a yeast infection, your vagina needs to be able to “breathe”. Man-made fibers, such as nylon, encourage heat and sweating, which in turn creates a breeding ground for yeast fungi. Always wear cotton underwear and avoid wearing nylon tights as much as you can. When you do wear them, make sure you choose a pair with a cotton gusset. In addition, always get out of your exercise clothes as soon as you’ve finished exercising. Finally, make a habit of sleeping “commando”.
Use sanitary towels If you suffer from thrush, avoid using tampons and opt for sanitary towels instead. Towels allow menstrual blood to flow naturally out of the vagina, which is healthier and cleaner than tampons (these keep the blood trapped inside you). However, don’t’ use towels on days when you don’t have your period, as the plastic strip at the bottom prevent air from circulating properly around your genitals.
Avoid perfume Perfumed soaps and bubble baths can alter the natural acid-alkaline balance of your vagina, helping fungal microbes to thrive. In addition, avoid powders and feminine hygiene products that can cause irritation. If you like to use a special scent, pick a favorite essential oil and add a few drops of it to your underwear after you’ve put it on.
Get your partner checked out If you suffer from recurrent bouts of thrush, be aware that your partner may have thrush as well, with or without the symptoms. For this reason, it’s important for him or her to be tested and treated, too. If your partner isn’t instead, and does have the infection, you’ll simply pass it backward and forward between you.