Yeast infections are an all-too-common occurrence that can wreak havoc on your physical and emotional well-being. Whether it’s an uncomfortable itching sensation, painful inflammation, or a persistent discharge, these infections can disrupt your daily life and leave you searching for effective remedies. While seeking medical advice from a midwife or OBGYN is crucial, it’s equally important to explore natural remedies that can provide relief and support your body’s healing process.
In this blog, we’ll cover:
- The importance natural remedies for yeast infections
- Why expectant mamas seem to get them more often
- The significance of addressing yeast infections promptly
- How to differentiate between vaginal yeast infections and other types of infections
Understanding Yeast Infections
Before we conquer yeast infections, let’s get to know them a little better. We’ll give you a friendly rundown of what yeast infections are all about—their causes, symptoms, and just how common they are. Plus, we’ll help you distinguish vaginal yeast infections from other types, so you’ll have a clearer understanding of what’s going on down there.
A yeast infection, also known as candidiasis, is a common fungal infection caused by an overgrowth of Candida yeast, most commonly Candida albicans. This type of infection can occur in various parts of the body, such as the mouth, throat, skin, and genitals, with vaginal yeast infections being one of the most prevalent types.
Are You Dealing with a Yeast Infection?
Common symptoms of a vaginal yeast infection include:
- Itching and irritation in the vaginal area
- Redness and swelling of the vulva
- Burning sensation during urination or intercourse
- Abnormal vaginal discharge, typically thick and white, resembling cottage cheese
- Soreness and discomfort in the vaginal area
While yeast infections are common and can cause discomfort, it’s essential to consider that there are other conditions that may share similar symptoms. It’s important not to self-diagnose and consult your OBGYN or midwife for an accurate diagnosis.
Here are a few examples of other conditions that may have similar symptoms to yeast infections:
- Bacterial vaginosis (BV): BV is a common vaginal infection caused by an imbalance of bacteria in the vagina. Symptoms such as itching, burning, and abnormal vaginal discharge can resemble those of a yeast infection.
- Urinary tract infection (UTI): UTIs occur when bacteria enter the urinary tract and cause an infection. UTIs can cause symptoms like frequent urination, pain or burning during urination, and cloudy or strong-smelling urine, which may overlap with yeast infection symptoms.
- Sexually transmitted infections (STIs): Certain STIs, such as trichomoniasis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea, can present symptoms similar to yeast infections. These symptoms may include itching, burning, abnormal discharge, and discomfort during intercourse.
- Allergic reactions or irritations: Sometimes, an allergic reaction or irritation to certain products like soaps, detergents, or condoms can lead to symptoms resembling a yeast infection. These symptoms can include itching, redness, and swelling.
If you experience persistent or recurring symptoms, it’s best to consult with your OBGYN or midwife.
Natural Remedies versus Conventional Treatments
That being said, once you know you’re dealing with a yeast infection, you may consider natural remedies. Natural remedies are like little superheroes for your body, and when it comes to treating yeast infections during pregnancy, natural remedies offer several advantages over conventional treatments.
First, they provide a safer option, as some conventional medications may carry potential risks and side effects that could be concerning for the well-being of both the mother and the developing baby. For example, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration shares that, “Use of long-term, high-dose (400-800 mg/day) fluconazole during the first three months of pregnancy (first trimester) may be associated with a rare and distinct set of birth defects in infants.” Interestingly, the single-dose pregnancy safety rating for fluconazole is C, but it jumps up to D for chronic infections.
Natural remedies, on the other hand, tend to have fewer associated risks. Additionally, natural remedies align with the principles of holistic healing, addressing not only the symptoms but also the underlying causes of the infection. This approach promotes overall well-being and supports your body’s natural healing processes, which can be especially beneficial during pregnancy.
Natural Remedies to Consider
Now that we’ve explored a few benefits of natural remedies, let’s dive into some of the most common ones:
Garlic: Nature’s Anti-Fungal Superstar
Picture this: garlic as an anti-fungal superhero! It’s true! Garlic has a rich history of combating yeast infections, dating back millennia. Even ancient cultures such as the Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, and Chinese recognized the therapeutic potential of garlic!
When it comes to vaginal yeast infections, garlic stands out as a natural remedy with its remarkable antifungal properties. In a 2018 case study, one woman successfully treated her infection with garlic even when conventional antifungals failed her!
Here are some key points about using garlic for yeast infections:
- Topical application: Crushed garlic cloves or garlic paste can be applied topically to the affected area, providing relief from itching and discomfort.
- Vaginal insertion: Some mamas find inserting a garlic clove into the vagina overnight helpful in combating yeast infections.
Cautionary notes: It’s crucial to exercise caution when using garlic. It may cause irritation or a burning sensation in some individuals. Consultation with a healthcare professional is recommended before using garlic as a remedy.
Harnessing the Power of Yogurt
Say hello to yogurt, your new best friend when it comes to promoting a healthy vaginal environment. Yogurt has emerged as a popular natural remedy for yeast infections, offering potential relief and promoting a healthy vaginal environment.
Here’s a look at why yogurt is commonly used for yeast infections:
Prenatal Probiotics: A Mother’s Ally
Prenatal probiotics can be beneficial in supporting vaginal health and potentially reducing the risk of yeast infections during pregnancy. Here’s a closer look at how prenatal probiotics can help:
- Restoring microbial balance: Pregnancy can bring hormonal changes that may disrupt the delicate balance of vaginal flora, potentially increasing the risk of yeast infections. Mama Natural Prenatal Probiotics containing specific strains of beneficial bacteria, such as Lactobacillus rhamnosus or Lactobacillus acidophilus, can help restore and maintain a healthy balance of vaginal microorganisms.
- Reinforcing immune function: Prenatal probiotics can also support the immune system. A strong immune response is important in preventing and combating yeast infections, as it helps the body defend against the overgrowth of harmful bacteria and yeast.
- Alleviating antibiotic-related risks: Antibiotic use during pregnancy, which may be necessary for certain infections, can disrupt the natural vaginal flora and increase the likelihood of yeast infections. Taking prenatal probiotics alongside antibiotics can help mitigate this risk by replenishing beneficial bacteria.
- Supporting overall vaginal health: By promoting a healthy vaginal environment, prenatal probiotics can contribute to the prevention of yeast infections. The presence of beneficial bacteria helps maintain a slightly acidic pH, which creates an inhospitable environment for yeast overgrowth.
Exploring Other Natural Remedies
Let’s introduce you to a few more natural remedies that can help with yeast infections: tea tree oil, coconut oil, apple cider vinegar, and boric acid. These remedies offer unique properties that can aid in relieving symptoms and combating yeast overgrowth.
Tea tree oil + coconut oil
Tea tree oil is known for its antifungal and antibacterial properties, while coconut oil provides soothing relief and moisturizes the affected area.
Apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar helps restore pH balance and create an unfavorable environment for yeast. Here’s a general guideline on how to use it:
- Dilute the vinegar: Mix 1 to 2 tablespoons of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar with 1 cup of warm water. It’s important to dilute the vinegar to avoid irritation or burning of the delicate vaginal tissues.
- Topical application: Soak a clean cotton ball or cloth in the diluted apple cider vinegar solution. Gently apply it to the affected area, such as the vulva, for a few minutes. Rinse the area thoroughly with warm water afterward. This can help relieve external itching and discomfort caused by the yeast infection.
- Bathing with apple cider vinegar: Alternatively, you can add 1 to 2 cups of apple cider vinegar to a warm bath and soak in it for about 20 minutes. This may help alleviate itching and irritation associated with yeast infections.
Boric acid can be used as a vaginal suppository to help address yeast infections. Here’s a general guideline on how to use boric acid:
- Purchase pharmaceutical-grade boric acid suppositories from a reputable source. It is essential to ensure the quality and purity of the product.
- Wash your hands thoroughly before handling the suppository.
- Lie down in a comfortable position, preferably on your back with your knees bent.
- Gently insert one boric acid suppository into the vagina using your fingers or an applicator as instructed by the product’s packaging. It is typically recommended to insert the suppository as deeply as possible.
- Wash your hands again after insertion.
- Follow the recommended dosage and duration of use provided by your healthcare professional or as indicated on the product’s packaging. Typically, boric acid suppositories are used once daily for a specific period, usually ranging from a few days to a few weeks.
It’s important to note that boric acid should not be ingested orally and is for vaginal use only.
Prevention and Lifestyle Tips
Preventing yeast infections involves adopting certain habits and practices to maintain a healthy vaginal environment. Here are some tips to help reduce the risk of yeast infections:
- Maintain proper hygiene: Keep the genital area clean and dry. Avoid using harsh soaps, douches, or feminine hygiene products that may disrupt the natural balance of vaginal flora.
- Wear breathable underwear: Opt for breathable fabrics like cotton underwear, which allows air circulation and helps keep the vaginal area dry. Avoid tight-fitting clothing that can trap moisture and create an ideal environment for yeast overgrowth.
- Avoid unnecessary antibiotic use: Antibiotics can disrupt the natural vaginal flora and increase the likelihood of yeast infections. Only take antibiotics when necessary and follow the prescribed dosage and duration.
- Be mindful of dietary choices: Some studies suggest that a diet high in added sugars and refined carbohydrates may contribute to yeast overgrowth. Maintain a balanced diet that includes probiotic-rich foods like yogurt, kefir, and fermented vegetables, as they can promote a healthy balance of vaginal flora.
- Manage chronic health conditions: If you have gestational diabetes or other chronic health conditions, work with your healthcare provider to manage them effectively. High blood sugar levels can increase the risk of yeast infections.
- Avoid prolonged moisture: After swimming or exercising, change out of wet clothes promptly and ensure the genital area is dry to discourage yeast growth.
- Eat probiotic rich food: Foods like kefir and kim chi promote a healthy balance of beneficial bacteria in your body, including the vaginal and gut flora, which can help inhibit the overgrowth of harmful fungi like yeast.
Remember, everyone’s body is unique, and what works for one person may not work for another. If you experience recurrent yeast infections or have concerns, it’s best to consult with a healthcare professional for personalized advice and guidance.