Vaginal yeast infections often referred to as candidiasis, are quite common. This is because the vagina has both healthy bacteria and yeast. Its symptoms are also quite easy to tell in most people given their uniqueness.
What is a vaginal yeast infection?
When the balance between the healthy bacteria and the yeast in the vagina is upset in favor of the yeast, they will overgrow. Having too much yeast will lead to its many symptoms such as swelling and itching in the vaginal area.
The specific fungus that causes yeast infections in the vagina is called Candida albicans. Once you have a yeast infection, chances are high that you will have another one. This calls for taking certain measures against the occurrence of the disease.
If indeed, the cause of your vaginal yeast infection is caused by Candida albicans, the case can be easily treated and will rarely recur within a short period.
If you have too many cases of a yeast infection, another type of candida fungus (not albicans) would be the cause of the infection.
While you can get yeast infections from sexual contact, yeast infections are not classified as sexually transmitted diseases. This is partly due to the fact that it is largely caused by the bacterial imbalance in the vagina.
With a vaginal yeast infection, there isn’t much to worry about given that it is quite easy to treat both with over-the-counter medication and home remedies.
Most treatment methods can get rid of the infection in a few days and only when the infection is extreme does it take up to a fortnight.
Causes of vaginal yeast infections
Besides sexual contact, the main cause of vaginal yeast infections is the imbalance between the yeast and bacteria in the vagina. Lactobacillus bacteria and the yeast infection keep each other in check (by creating unfavorable conditions for each other).
When the conditions are not conducive to the bacteria, the yeast will grow out of control. Among the most likely causes of this change include:
- A weak immune system
- Nearing your period
- Not having enough sleep
- Diabetes that has run out of hand
- Poor diet such too much sugar or fats
Symptoms of vaginal yeast infections
The symptoms of this kind of infection are quite easy to tell apart from others. They include:
- Vaginal swelling
- Pain when engaging in sexual activity
- Redness of the vagina
- Itching on the vagina
- Burning sensation when passing urine
- Cottage cheese vaginal discharge
With yeast infections, the longer you take to treat them, the more severe they become. Severe cases of a yeast infection are more painful and harder to treat compared to the mild strain of the infection.
Diagnosis of vaginal yeast infection
There are various ways in which the doctor can use to diagnose yeast infections of the vagina. They include the following:
1. Medical history
The first step would be the examination of your medical history. The doctor will check whether you have had a yeast infection before, how often you have the infections and other factors.
The doctor may also check whether you have had other types of sexually transmitted illnesses.
2. Pelvic exam
The walls of the vagina and the cervix will be observed for the signs of a yeast infection. Besides that, the surrounding area will be examined for any external symptoms of this type of infection.
3. Lab examination
The next stage in the diagnosis entails carrying out lab tests on cells taken from the vagina to ascertain the actual cause of the symptoms.
Together with the other signs and symptoms of the infection, your doctor will be able to pinpoint the yeast infection and prescribe the treatment regimen.
The routine of treatment will depend on the type of candida fungus causing the infection, and the severity of the same.
Treatment methods for vaginal yeast infections
After the doctor has proven that indeed you are suffering from a yeast infection, they will prescribe the required medication as per the severity and type of candida fungus affecting you.
There is a choice between home remedies and medication. Most yeast infections can be dealt with using home remedies and mild medicines. The severe ones will take longer to heal and require stronger medication.
If the yeast infection is a simple one, the normal prescription regimen of about 1 to 3 days is all you will need. You will be given either a suppository, tablets, an ointment, or antifungal cream as a treatment method. Among the most common medicines you will be given are:
- Miconazole (Lotrimin)
- Terconazole (Terazol)
- Butoconazole (Gynazole)
- Fluconazole (Diflucan)
Such simple infections will go away in a few days. When you are done with the dosage, go for another checkup with your doctor to know if the disease has been done away with.
If the infection recurs within two months, go for a checkup as soon as possible as it could be a severe case.
Most over-the-counter medications and home remedies can treat simple infections of vaginal yeast.
A complex, severe or complicated yeast infection occurs when:
- You have experienced more than four infections of yeast in a single year.
- You are pregnant.
- You are HIV-positive
- If the itching, swelling, and redness are so severe that they cause tears and sores in the vagina.
- The cause of the yeast infection is another type of Candida other than
- You have a weak immune system.
- Have uncontrolled diabetes.
For such severe cases of the yeast infection, you will need treatment methods such as:
- At least two doses of Diflucan (fluconazole)
- A 14-day dose of a suppository vaginal treatment, tablets, cream or ointment
- A prescription of fluconazole to be taken one every week for about six weeks
- Topical antifungal medicine taken for as long as the doctor sees fit.
- Treatment of your partner since they could be the reason for the recurring infection.
Besides these routines, you will also be treated for any other conditions that are directly or indirectly related to the yeast infection such as other STDs and even diabetes.
Home remedies for vaginal yeast infections
For simple infections, you don’t need to get medicines from the pharmacy given that the medicines may have side effects on the body. These home remedies are easy to access and easy to use as well. Here are ten of the best you can use for this case.
1. Hydrogen peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide is widely used in killing yeast and bacteria even on open wounds hence can be used in treating the same in the vaginal area.
The only precautions you should take note of is that hydrogen peroxide should not be used for more five days without a break. Also, avoid using it in its undiluted form.
2. Apple cider vinegar
The use of apple cider vinegar in the treatment of vaginal yeast infections is a well-documented exercise that has been around for quite a while.
It is easy to use this remedy for the treatment of the overgrowth of candida albicans in the vagina.
All you need to do is to add half a cup of apple cider vinegar in a slightly warm bathtub. You then soak in this water for about 20 minutes.
This mixture, being acidic, will help in the elimination of the yeast in the vagina given that yeast thrives in alkaline conditions and does poorly in acidic ones.
While soaking in apple cider vinegar is recommended, douching with the same remedy (or any other) is not recommended as it only serves to increase your chances of having another infection.
3. Coconut oil
Coconut oil has many health benefits including antifungal properties which are instrumental in treating yeast and other types of fungal infections.
It has been proven by lab tests that the oil extracted from the flesh of the coconut works against the Candida albicans.
Go for coconut oil that is pure and organic then apply it to the vagina for the best results.
4. Essential oil of oregano
Often called Origanum marjoram, essential oil of oregano is found in the local grocery shops among the spices. It is different from the oil of oregano that is commonly used to treat yeast infections. The essential version of the oil is extracted from wild oregano and has carvacrol and thymol.
The presence of thymol and carvacrol makes the essential oil of oregano a very powerful antifungal agent which works against the growth of yeast.
Although a great remedy for most health conditions, you should use the essential oil of oregano with a lot of precaution. First of all, this essential oil has blood-thinning properties and should thus be used only when you are not using other blood thinners, or have a blood-clotting problem.
Also, refrain from taking this essential oil orally. You can, however, inhale them as part of the aromatherapy regimen. Avoid applying this essential oil directly to the vagina as it may cause burns.
You can also use the oil when you have mixed it with a carrier oil like sweet almond oil or olive oil before using it.
The recommended mixture is between three and 5 drops of the essential oil per ounce of the carrier oil. Inhale the mixture from a diffuser or massage it to the skin.
5. Greek yogurt
Due to the presence of the bacteria Lactobacillus acidophilus in Greek yogurt, it is used as a probiotic against Candida albicans. Probiotics will introduce healthy bacteria into the vagina and the digestive tract and are thus recommended for yeast infections and even digestive issues.
Of note is that only plain Greek yogurt has these benefits. If you go for yogurt with added sugars, you will not get the benefits given that sugars provide an environment that is conducive for the yeast to grow further.
6. Vitamin C
Also referred to as ascorbic acid, vitamin C is used to boost the immune system and restore balance to the yeast and bacteria in the body.
Vitamin C is often distilled into a tablet, added with some antimicrobial properties, and used in treating most yeast infections.
Vitamin C should be used carefully especially as a suppository as it can cause burn for sensitive skin. Rather than using it directly on the vagina, just increase the intake of this vitamin for the desired results.
Garlic has been used to treat yeast and other infections of the vagina for a long time. The fact that it has been proven to kill the candida group of fungi is evidence of its effect on the yeast infections.
The best way to use garlic is to include a high amount of it in your diet. Other times, you may insert it into the vagina for a few minutes for faster results.
However, it has been seen to cause pain and some burns when used directly on the vagina.
8. Tea tree oil
You can use tea tree oil in treating viruses, bacteria, and fungi in the vagina. It can be used as a suppository in treating most vaginal infections. The use of tea tree oil has been linked to the healthy balance of bacteria and yeast in the vagina.
You should be careful with the use of tea tree oil since it is quite strong. You should avoid using it orally and only use it after diluting it.
Also, you are advised to use it only occasionally. It is also advisable to dilute it with a carrier oil like coconut oil and jojoba.
9. Probiotic suppositories and supplements
Probiotics have the chemical constituents which help in restoring the balance between the healthy bacteria and the yeast in the vagina. The best probiotics have the bacteria lactobacillus acidophilus.
This type of bacteria is beneficial to both the vaginal flora and the digestive tract.
Oral probiotics are to be taken for 10 days before the results can be seen. Other times, probiotic suppositories are to be used for even faster results.
You can use the same probiotic regimen to treat vaginosis.
10. Boric acid
When other remedies have failed, most people resort to boric acid for treatment purposes. Yeast infections are some of the diseases which can be easily dealt with using boric acid.
Not just that, boric acid can be used for most vaginal infections. It may also be used as a vaginal suppository treatment.
When used in large amounts, however, boric acid is toxic to the user as it can cause death, failure of your circulatory system and kidney damage.
This can be prevented by avoiding to take boric acid orally or using it on broken skin. Using it when pregnant is also not recommended.
This acid is to be mixed with water then applied to the vulva or vagina for the best benefits.
With each of the remedies stated here, you need to take care when using them as some may have subjective side effects. Consult with your doctor first.
Staying away from yeast infections
If you follow a few routine steps, you can be sure to stay free from yeast infections. This list has the dos and don’ts of keeping away from this kind of infection.
- Focus on foods such as plain yogurt and any other probiotics.
- When you wash underwear, do so with hot water.
- Avoid wearing tight underwear, leggings, tights, and pantyhose
- Spend as little time in wet clothes as possible. For example, spend only a few hours in bathing suits
- Always have a balanced diet and avoid sugary foods.
- For underwear, put on natural fibers like silk, cotton, and linen.
- Make it a routine to change and replace underwear frequently.
- Keep away from pads and tampons that are scented.
- Sped little time sitting in hot tub baths and other wet conditions.
Home Remedies for Yeast Infections – Health line
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