Yeast infections (thrush or candidiasis), if they’re in the skin, mouth or genitalia, can be painful, irritating and embarrassing. Here we’ll look at vaginal yeast infection, the causes, symptoms and how to cure it.
What causes yeast infections?
Candida, or yeast, lives happily in the vagina in a balance with your body. However there are some circumstances that least to an over-growth of the yeast and this can lead to thrush. The circumstances that can cause yeast infections include:
- Taking antibiotics like tetracycline or ampicillin as these alter the natural bacterial flora of the body and allow the yeast to multiply unchecked. So you can get thrush in the vagina or mouth.
- Taking oral contraceptives. The combined pill has been linked with an increased risk of thrush if you’re prone to it. However the progesterone-only pill, or mini pill, carries less risk.
- Being pregnant. The body’s chemistry is changed when you’re pregnant and this again, can change the body’s flora balance.
- Taking some drugs, such as corticosteroids, cytotoxic drugs or other drugs for cancer treatment.
- Having diabetes, especially where the blood sugar isn’t well controlled. The candida loves a sweetened ‘host’ and will multiply.
- Having a high carb diet.
- Problems such as iron deficiency anaemia, vitamin deficiency, AIDS, malnutrition.
- Wearing synthetic lingerie, pants/trousers and pantyhose/tights.
Have I got thrush?
Thrush symptoms can vary from being mild (so that you’re not sure if you’ve got it or not) to severe. Candida symptoms often start with an itching in the vulval area. You may notice a white discharge that is like a curd. The vulval area might look red, swollen and angry. You may have some discomfort when you pass urine but you shouldn’t have increased frequency of needing to go to the toilet. If you have thrush symptoms, your doctor will be able to take a swab of the exudate discharge and send it to the lab for analysis. If you want to see a female doctor, then ask.
What vaginal yeast infection cures are there?
Anti-fungal agents are available from the chemist and on prescription. Clotrimazole (Canestan) 200mg pessary (a tablet you put into the vagina that slowly dissolves there), 1 at night for 3 nights. Clotrimazole (Canestan) 500mg pessary as a single dose. Miconazole 100mg pessary, 2 for 7 nights. There are also clotrimazole creams that will sooth the area while the other treatments are working. Fluconazole (Diflucan) 150mg oral tablet as a single dose. This is not suitable for pregnant or nursing mothers and not licensed for use in men.
Natural cure for yeast infections.
Yoghurt is a good cure for yeast infections. It must be natural yoghurt and unsweetened. Apply it to the vaginal area (wear a sanitary pad) or dip a tampon into the yoghurt and insert this into the vagina. Make sure you drink plenty of water. Some people swear by garlic as a natural cure for yeast infections. Try inserting 1 garlic tablet into the vagina every few hours for relief of the symptoms of a yeast infection. Try Shaklee garlic tablets.
How do I avoid getting a yeast infection?
There are several things to avoid if you’re prone to getting a vaginal yeast infection.
- Avoid wearing tight-fitting pants or non-cotton underwear. Look for hold-ups rather than full pantyhose.
- Avoid douching.
- Avoid wiping yourself back-to-front after you’ve used the toilet. That means wipe the toilet paper from the front (vaginal) passage to the back (anal) passage. This avoids any bowel bacteria getting into the vaginal area where they will upset the vaginal flora.
- Avoid eating a diet rich in carbohydrate such as sugar, bread, pastries, pasta etc. Balance in the diet is key.
- Some people find that taking pro- or pre-biotic preparations prevent yeast infections after antibiotic courses. There are no scientific studies to support this but it may work for you if you know this can trigger an attack.
- If you’ve had sex with your partner since finding that you’ve got a vaginal yeast infection then he may have also got the infection. You must both be treated at the same time to avoid re-infection after you are cured and he is not.
- Find a birth control method that suits you – an IUD, implant, condoms or progesterone-only pill may be better than the combined pill.
- If you get repeated infections, and your partner has been treated, ask your doctor why this might be happening. She may be able to recommend preventative treatment if it’s happening at the same time in your monthly cycle, or test you for diabetes if this seems likely.
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