Each year, millions of women happen to suffer vaginal yeast infections – some of which can be rather painful and re-emerge just when you convince yourself that they’re gone for good. Sort of like a horror movie villain, really.
But I digress. Vaginal yeast infections are just so very common that according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is estimated that close to 75% of women will inevitably contract a vaginal yeast infection at some point in their lives. Err, yikes?
However, there are some silver linings. Fortunately, vaginal yeast infections are curable, and it’s entirely possible to use certain natural steps to get rid of that infection for good.
But First, Vaginal Yeast Infection – What’s That?
A vaginal yeast infection is caused by – surprise, surprise – yeast!
Our body plays host to millions of microorganisms like yeast, some of which actually have a good impact on our health. However, if due to some condition, the yeast population grows enough to overtake our body’s population of resident good bacteria, then it can result in a possible vaginal infection.
The most common species responsible for vaginal yeast infections is Candida albicans(candidiasis). Generally, a vaginal yeast infection will fall under the category of ‘vaginitis’ (read: inflammation of the vagina). While there are several health conditions that can cause vaginitis, the vaginal yeast infection is the most common cause.
Symptoms Of A Vaginal Yeast Infection
Yeast infections develop in body regions such as moist or damp folds, which happen to be favorable conditions for their growth (think high sweat areas). The following areas are most prone to outbreaks:
- Mouth and throat
- Anal region
- Nasal cavity
- Belly button
- Toenails and fingernails
- Between toes and fingers
- Inside the ears
- Digestive tract
If the yeast happens to overgrow in your vagina, then you can expect to see the following symptoms:
- Thick, white, clumpy, and odorless vaginal discharge that sort of resembles cottage cheese.
- Vaginal itching or rash.
- Irritated, red skin around the vagina along with swelling.
- Pain or burning sensation during urination, menstruation, and sexual intercourse.
- Slight bleeding.
- In some cases, there’s a slightly unusual smell.
Yes, That’s Exactly What I Have! How Do I Treat It?
The following are six home remedies, recommended by experts, that can successfully treat vaginal yeast infections while also simultaneously preventing a recurrence.
1. Keep Your Lady Bits Dry And Clean
Since yeast thrives in moist areas, it’s best to practice good hygiene and keep your privates dry and clean.
- Ensure you wash your genitals with fragrance-free, neutral soap every day, and dry off that region well post-showering.
- In the bathroom, reduce your risk of spreading germs by always wiping front to back, i.e., vagina to anus.
- After sexual intercourse, make sure to wash your genital area as it is possible for yeast infections to spread from person to person.
- Always practice safe sex by utilizing condoms.
- If you or your partner suffer from an active yeast infection, abstain from sex altogether.
2. Wear Clean Cotton Underwear
Always ensure that you’re wearing clean underwear, ideally cotton or some other breathable fabric. By allowing air to make contact with your genitals, you help prevent warmth and moisture from developing in that region, which can exacerbate yeast growth
3. Boost Your Immunity With Probiotics And A Nutrient-Rich Diet
A weakened immune system is one of the greatest risk factors for recurrent yeast infections. People suffering from autoimmune disorders, cancer or diabetes are more prone to contracting frequent yeast infections.
- Enhance your immune system by consuming a nutrient-rich diet, one that is high in healthy fats (like antimicrobial coconut oil), vegetables, and quality protein.
- Probiotic foods (especially those that contain bacteria like acidophilus or lactobacillus) have been proven to be beneficial in fighting yeast infections. Probiotics are basically “good bugs” that compete to survive with harmful pathogens in our body.
- Also, ensure that you control your blood sugar levels as high sugar levels feed yeast and boost its growth.
4. Look Out For Allergies
Certain allergies to soaps, latex/condoms or other hygiene products like tampons, douches, bath oils or spermicidal gels can lead to infection. Chemicals that irritate the sensitive genital area can have a negative impact on the bacteria balance in your vagina.
- If you’ve recently used a new product and noticed infections post its use, replace that product with a natural alternative.
- Steer clear of products that produce vaginal irritation such as fragrances, chemical dyes, and harsh ingredients.
- Experts also recommend avoiding douching as it upsets the natural balance of bacteria in a woman’s vagina, thereby creating an environment that can allow yeast to flourish.
5. Consider Hormonal Or Medical Conditions
Certain medical conditions such as type II diabetes or high estrogen or progesterone levels can make you more susceptible to vaginal yeast infections. Hence, in order to prevent the exacerbation of your current infection and to also prevent a reoccurrence, ensure that you get your blood sugar and hormone levels under control.
6. Fight Back With Essential Oils And Supplements
Certain essential oils and supplements are great for arresting yeast growth:
• Apple cider vinegar helps balance natural pH levels.
• Probiotic supplements are the best natural treatment for they replenish good bacteria that suppress yeast growth.
• Milk thistle and elderberry can cleanse your liver from toxic medications and birth control pill hormones.
• Antioxidants, including vitamin C, can help boost your immunity.
• Essential oils like lavender and tea tree oil are gentle but still help kill yeast. Apply several drops mixed with coconut oil directly outside your vaginal area.
Following the above-mentioned hygiene practices and remedies can help you stop yeast right in its tracks. However, always remember to consult a doctor before you start a new regime.