Yeast Infections – Causes and Cures

Written by Janelle Lawrence

On August 23, 2012

Are you one of the millions of women in the world who continue to get yeast infections despite all the money you spend on over-the-counter creams? If so, you’re not alone. Chronic yeast infections aren’t just a “crotch problem”; they are a sign that something is going wrong in your body. Once you learn how to treat your vaginal yeast infections from the inside out, you can finally get off the yeast infection rollercoaster and get some lasting relief!

What is a Yeast Infection?

A yeast infection is an overgrowth of natural bacteria called candida albicans. Normally, this bacteria doesn’t cause any problem and is actually beneficial to your gut and vaginal health. However, when this bacteria overgrows, vaginal yeast infections can result.

Common Yeast Infection Symptoms

Symptoms of vaginal yeast infections vary from woman to woman. Common yeast infection symptoms include:

  • Vulvar Itching and Burning
  • Vulvar Swelling
  • Pain During Sexual Intercourse/Urination
  • Whitish-Grey Cottage-Cheese-Like Discharge
  • Possible Vaginal Odor

If this is your first vaginal yeast infection, it is highly recommended you have your symptoms verified by a doctor. This is because many sexually transmitted diseases and bacterial infections have similar symptoms and will need to be treated differently from candida overgrowth. Furthermore, continued use of over-the-counter anti-fungals can cause resistance and make yeast infections that much harder to treat when you do get one.

What Causes Yeast Infections?

Yeast infections can be caused by several internal or environmental factors. The most common causes of yeast infections are:

  • Sexual Transmission

Both male/female and female/female sexual relationships can lead to the transmission of vaginal yeast infection. Because of this, it is always a good idea to practice safe sex and use condoms and/or gloves during intimacy. Note: Women with latex allergies should use non-latex condoms, gloves, and sex toys to avoid worsening their yeast condition.

  • Antibiotics

Excessive use of antibiotics can destroy the natural, healthy bacteria in your gut and leave you open to an overgrowth of candida albicans. Some women get a yeast infection each time they use antibiotics while some women have to be on continual doses before they notice a change in their personal environment.

  • Non-Cotton Underwear

They may be sexy, but those nylon or spandex panties could be the cause of your frequent yeast infection. This is because these materials do not allow your skin to breathe, creating a perfect breeding ground for yeast. Instead, switch to plain, unbleached cotton panties and remember to change them everyday. If you’ve had a recent yeast infection, take all the panties you’ve worn during your infection and boil them for 5 minutes. It may seem weird to make “panty soup” but regular laundry soap does not kill candida albicans and you may re-infect yourself the next time you put them on.

  • Chemicals

The environment is just not the same as it was in your grandmother’s time. There are chemicals, additives, preservatives, perfumes, and dyes in just about everything you wash and come in contact with.

Let’s take a look at a few of these hidden threats to your vaginal health:

  • Douching – Over-the-counter douches are nothing but a cocktail of chemicals and perfumes that strip your natural vaginal bacteria and alter your delicate pH balance. Stop using them now. Your crotch was never meant to smell like a purple peony.
  • Soap – All conventional soaps contain harsh perfumes, dyes, and chemicals that can irritate delicate skin and strip natural vaginal bacteria. Never use soap directly on your vulvar tissue. Instead, wash around the area with unscented castile soap and rinse the vulvar area with water only.
  • Tampons – Tampons are something most women don’t think about. After all, they’re just cotton on a string, right? Not exactly. Conventional tampons contain a chlorine bleach derivative called ‘dioxin’, touted as one of the most dangerous chemicals in the world. This chemical has been linked to the development of endometriosis and other serious uterine problems. Tampons also contain rayon made from wood fibers that stay in the vagina long after the tampon is removed. Switch to unbleached, 100% organic tampons instead and see if your yeast infection symptoms disappear.
  • Toilet Paper – It may not seem possible that toilet paper could contribute to yeast infection but for some women, it can. It goes back to chemicals. The toilet paper you use everyday may look like innocent cotton but it’s anything but. Whether it’s regular or recycled toilet paper, odds are, it contains the endocrine disruptor BPA as well as cocktail of chemicals and perfumes. Though it’s hard to find completely BPA-free toilet paper on the market, there is one called Bum Boosa that sells at online retailers for about $1.30 per roll.
  • Laundry Detergent – Laundry detergent is one of the biggest causes of allergic reaction, yeast infections, rashes, and sinus problems. This is because of the heavy perfumes used in most conventional products. Switching to a fragrance-free brand or an organic variety can go a long way in healing your recurrent yeast infections (and those sneezing attacks too!)
  • Condoms

Practicing safe sex is a must unless you’ve been in a faithfully committed relationship for years. Still, latex condoms can wreck havoc with some women’s delicate pH balance. You may have a mild latex allergy and be simply unaware of it. Also, the spermicidal lubricant, nonoxynol-9 has been shown to strip away natural vaginal moisture and lead to frequent yeast infections. Switch to non-latex condoms and alternative spermicide to see if symptoms improve.

  • Diet

If you’re a sufferer of chronic yeast infections, your diet could be to blame. Women with weakened immune systems and digestive disorders are especially vulnerable to the development of chronic candida. Processed sugar, refined grains, dried fruit, cured meats, baked products, pastas, and breads should be avoided as they only feed the yeast. When you have a chronic yeast condition, your body needs as much whole food as possible to heal. This means you should eat plenty of organic poultry, fish, and beef as well as organic vegetables, and brown rice. Click the upcoming link for a complete list of acceptable and not acceptable foods on the candida diet.

  • Hormones

Prolonged use of birth control pills can cause hormone disruptions in your body that may lead to frequent yeast infections. Also, steroid medications for autoimmune conditions such as lupus or asthma can also cause chronic yeast infections.

  • Compromised Immune System

A weakened immune system caused by celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome can also contribute to a yeast overgrowth in the body. This is why it is especially important for women with any type of autoimmune disease to eat a healthy, organic diet as often as possible and avoid processed foods.

Yeast Infection Cures – Conventional and Natural

  • Conventional

The most common conventional remedies for yeast infections are over-the-counter creams such as Monistat 7. For recurrent yeast infections that do not respond well to these creams, your doctor may treat with a prescription strength anti-fungal cream with a steroid to treat vulvar swelling. Chronic candida infection may be treated with oral anti-fungals such as Nystatin or Diflucan either instead of, or in addition to, a vaginal cream. However, continued use of oral anti-fungals may lead to liver, kidney or heart damage.

  • Natural
    • Dietary Changes

As mentioned above, a diet filled with processed foods and refined sugars will contribute to the recurrence of yeast infections. Switching to a whole-food diet filled with organic vegetables, non-gluten grains, beans, brown rice, and organic meat, poultry and fish can go a long way in healing your body from the inside out.

    • Clove of Garlic

The last time you peeled a clove of garlic for a recipe, you probably never thought about putting it anywhere but in your food. However, a clove of garlic is one of the best natural yeast infection cures. Remove a clove of organic garlic from its bulb and peel off the white protective layer. Using a clean finger, push it gently into your vagina as far as it will go before bedtime. Remove it in the morning. For severe or stubborn cases, cut the clove in half before placing in the vagina.

    • Yogurt

Plain organic Greek yogurt works best for this. Fill an empty tampon applicator with the yogurt and place in your vagina. This natural remedy helps soothe irritated tissue and can help cure yeast infection naturally.

    • Pau D’Arco Tea

Pau D’Arco tea is made from a flowering evergreen tree native to Central andSouth America. It has been used medicinally for centuries to treat inflammation, candida, herpes, influenza, and cancer. Women on blood thinners should ask their doctor before using this natural yeast treatment.

    • Probiotics

Probiotics are the beneficial bacteria found in yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and other fermented foods. Because each of these foods contains only a small amount of beneficial bacteria, it is recommended that women with chronic yeast infections take an oral probiotic with a count of 50 billion colony forming units (CFUs) each day.

    • Apple Cider Vinegar

Chronic yeast infections are often the result of an acidic body pH. This is usually caused by poor diet and chronic use of antibiotics. To combat these yeast infections naturally, drink two teaspoons of raw, organic apple cider vinegar in 8 ounces of pure water 3 times per day. You may feel a slight worsening of symptoms and fatigue. This is called a “die-off” reaction and should disappear within a few days.

    • Coconut Oil

Pure organic coconut oil can be a lifesaver for the women with chronic yeast infections. For best results, eat a teaspoon of virgin coconut oil 3 times per day for one week. If you feel you can’t stand the thought of just swallowing oil, carefully heat the glass bottle of coconut oil under the faucet until it becomes more liquid and measure out a teaspoon to drink. Chase it with water. Coconut oil has strong antiviral, anti-fungal properties and naturally supports your body’s good bacteria while destroying bad.

No matter what started your chronic vaginal yeast infections, chronic candida can be cured. It’s not just a matter of finding the right cream to treat your symptoms but treating your entire body with the right combination of diet and natural remedies. Whether your yeast infections are chronic or only come for an annoying visit once in the while, these tips can get you back to feeling clean, fresh, and feminine again.

Do you get frequent vaginal yeast infections? Share your treatment tips in the comments below!

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