Yeast Infections: Symptoms and Remedies
Yeast infections are unpleasant fungal infections that affect the female reproductive organs, but there are quite a few natural remedies to alleviate the symptoms, including the use of yogurt, cranberries, apple cider vinegar, garlic, tea tree oil, coconut oil and boric acid, as well as wearing cotton underwear.
Scientifically known as vaginal candidiasis, vaginal yeast infections are common and severely unpleasant infections that affect the vagina and the tissues around the vaginal opening, typically characterized by itchiness and vaginal discharge. This fungal infection is not considered a sexually transmitted disease, but it can be spread through oral or genital contact with the vagina, which may be why more than 75% of women will experience a yeast infection at some point in their lives. The symptoms of yeast infections can vary, but they typically include itching, redness, vaginal swelling and irritation, thick white discharge, and a burning sensation when peeing. More severe symptoms, such as cracking of the skin or bleeding are exceedingly rare, but if you experience them, you should see a doctor immediately.
There are a number of medications that can quickly treat yeast infections, but many women choose to turn to natural remedies, as they are readily available and have been proven highly effective over the years. Most yeast infections are mild in nature, and easily remedied, but if you have chronic yeast infections, if this is your first yeast infection, if you’re pregnant or have diabetes, then you should see a doctor.
Causes of Yeast Infections
There is a normal mixture of yeast and bacteria in a woman’s vagina, but the balance is very important, and if more yeast begins to form, it is considered a yeast infection. The bacteria in the vagina produces acid that controls the overgrowth of yeast, but when the balance shifts, it can cause the burning and irritation of a yeast infection. This uncontrolled growth of yeast can be caused by a number of factors, including sexual activity, diabetes, a poorly functioning immune system, certain antibiotics and medications, and oral contraceptives. At that point, the Candida albicans fungus becomes impossible to control, which is when formal or natural treatments are necessary.
Home Remedies for Yeast Infections
Cranberry Juice: The most popular and oft-recommended remedy for yeast infections, as well as most vaginal disorders and infections, is cranberry juice. This simple berry contains many antifungal and antibacterial compounds that can rebalance the mixture of yeast and bacteria in the vagina, quickly clearing up a wide variety of infections. Drinking 2-3 glasses of cranberry juice per day, or purchasing concentrated cranberry extract is a tried and true treatment for yeast infections.
Apple Cider Vinegar: This trusted remedy boasts a number of antifungal components that can make quick work of a yeast infection, and apple cider vinegar is readily available in most places around the world. You can mix apple cider vinegar with water and drink it 1-2 times per day, or mix it in with your bathwater and soak in the bath, letting the antifungal compounds do their work and get you back to normal fast.
Garlic: This common herb contains antioxidant, antifungal and antibacterial compounds that can quickly neutralize the Candida albicans fungus in the vagina. There are a number of ways to consume garlic as a remedy, either crushing garlic cloves into a paste and applying it directly to the affected area, or simply eat a few gloves of garlic every day until the infection disappears.
Coconut Oil: Coconut oil is a powerful remedy for yeast infections due to the comprehensive mix of antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antifungal compounds that it contains. You can apply a small amount of coconut oil directly to the infected area multiple times per day, and the infection should clear itself up within a few days.
Tea Tree Oil: As one of the most trusted remedies for fungal and bacterial infections in Australia and nearby regions, tea tree oil has shown its value in the treatment of yeast infections. Due to the powerful nature of tea tree oil, only a small amount is necessary. A few drops can be applied on a tampon and inserted in the vagina each day, which should eliminate the infection within a week.
Boric Acid: One of the less common methods of eliminating yeast infections, boric acid has impressive antifungal and antiseptic properties that make it a popular home remedy for this infection. Pregnant women should not use this remedy, but for other women, mixing boric acid with water and applying it directly to the affected area should clear up the infection quickly.
Yogurt: When it comes to healthy bacteria, few substances are as good as yogurt, as it contains probiotics that can rebalance the mix of yeast and bacteria in the vagina, quickly neutralizing the overgrowth of yeast. You can apply plain yogurt directly to the affected area, put it on a tampon and insert it into the vagina, or simply add yogurt to your daily diet for quick relief.
Cotton Underwear: Since fungus loves warm and damp environments, wearing underwear that is too constricting or made of non-absorbent materials can make the infection even worse. Cotton underwear is the best option if you want to dry out your vagina and prevent the infection from growing any worse. You can also avoid wearing underwear entirely, as this will also help make the environment difficult for the fungus to survive and flourish.
Reduce Stress: Every part of our body and mind is connected, and studies have linked excess stress to yeast infections, due to the imbalanced hormones that chronic stress can cause. If you are suffering from chronic yeast infections, try soothing activities like yoga, acupuncture, or aromatherapy to balance your mind, which will in turn help your immune system rebalance your body!
Discontinue Use of Feminine Products: While many feminine products are good for improving hygiene and odor, some of the harsh chemicals in feminine products can make it inhospitable for the “good” bacteria to survive, leaving perfect conditions for a yeast infection. Also, the harsh chemicals can exacerbate inflammation, which can make the infection even more painful and uncomfortable.
A Final Word of Warning: Although most yeast infections are harmless, and can be eliminated with these simple home remedies, chronic yeast infections may be a sign of a more serious underlying condition. If you have excessively long or frequent yeast infections, or if they are accompanied by cracked skin or bleeding, you should see your medical professional or gynecologist immediately.