Let’s face it, most of us women have had to deal with a range of “special” problems at some point, from painful periods to yeast infections. While they are certainly irritating, contributor Stefani is here to tell you about how to treat a yeast infection at home and perhaps even stop them from happening at all!
Being a woman can be an amazing thing. We get to grow humans in our womb, nourish babies with our bodies, and let’s be honest – we get to wear all the pretty clothes. We also don’t have to smell like boys (and as a boy mom, I assure you this really is a thing).
But there’s a downside to womanhood.
The pain of our monthly cycles, whether it’s physical or emotional. Hormonal imbalances and the resulting fluctuating moods that will leave anyone feeling crazy (don’t tell my husband I admitted to this). And of course – the dreaded yeast infections.
While not a glamorous subject by any stretch, we’ve all been there.
Whether you suffer from chronic yeast infections or just get them out of the blue from time to time, it’s estimated that 75% of women have had to deal with vaginitis at some point in their lives.
So you’re not alone.
What is a yeast infection?
When Candida yeast has the opportunity to take over its environment, it will.
A yeast infection (aka vaginal candidiasis) is an overgrowth of yeast within the vaginal canal. While Candida normally lives inside the body and on the skin, an imbalance will allow yeast to quickly multiply and cause signs of infection or overgrowth.
The normal vaginal pH – or levels of acidity – in women of childbearing age is between 3.8 and 4.5. This slightly acidic environment helps keeps bad bugs or opportunistic ones – like Candida – in check.
When you add sperm, blood, amniotic fluid, or chemicals this changes the vaginal pH, giving yeast the window they need to multiply and cause vaginitis.
What causes yeast infections?
Contrary to what we may instinctively think, yeast infections don’t happen because you’re “dirty.”
Even those who are the most hygienic can suffer from their fair share of this yeast overgrowth. Though personal hygiene does have an impact on the health of our girl-parts, often, an infection isn’t because you’re not washing well enough.
Washing too aggressively and with soaps that contain fragrances and harsh chemicals is actually counterproductive to vaginal health.
These products can cause a change in the pH of our delicate vaginal biome, which then creates the ideal environment for yeast to thrive.
The best way to keep it clean is gently using a mild soap on the outside only, and making sure to wear clean cotton (or other breathable) underwear.
Those with a weakened immune system also have a much higher incidence of developing yeast infections. This is so prevalent that research suggests any woman with frequent or stubborn vaginal candida or other types of vaginitis be tested for HIV.
Additionally, the use of broad-spectrum antibiotics is actually one of the biggest contributors to the development of yeast infections. Antibiotics encourage the growth of the opportunistic yeast by killing off the normal, balancing vaginal flora.
This is one of the reasons why antibiotics should be reserved for only when you really need them. (Find out how to make your own herbal natural antibiotic here.)
Fortunately, knowing how to treat a yeast infection at home – gently and naturally – will help to create and maintain balance, even after antibiotic use.
P.S. if you DO find yourself in a position where antibiotics are a MUST, try taking Saccharomyces boulardii (a friendly yeast) a few hours away from each antibiotic dosage to keep candida at bay.
Again with the hormones
Women who are pregnant or taking birth control have higher rates of developing yeast infections. Why? Blame it on your hormones.
Research shows that estrogens allow candida to easily adhere to vaginal cells, which allows an infection to bloom. If you’re battling frequent yeast infections, you may be dealing with estrogen dominance.
It has also been discovered that Candida strains contain a receptor for female reproductive hormones, which also helps to provide an ideal environment for growth.
So those pesky hormones aren’t only just a hassle for us (postpartum anxiety, anyone?) to deal with, they could actually be helping the yeast to get comfy and stay a while!
How do you know if you have a yeast infection?
Signs of a yeast infection will vary from woman to woman. But the most common symptoms of yeast infection include:
- Vaginal itching and swelling (sometimes the itching is unrelenting and severe)
- Pain during sex
- Discomfort or pain when urinating
- Abnormal vaginal discharge, which many say is thick, white, and lumpy like cottage cheese
Now that I’ve successfully turned you off of cheese for a while (sorry about that), let’s quickly discuss how you know you have a yeast infection.
A trip to the doctor can diagnose this for you easier than you can, simply because we just can’t see down there as well as they can, nor can we do advanced testing at home. But since 15-20% of women are asymptomatic when they have yeast infections, they often don’t get to the doctor right away.
If you’re wanting to hold off on a doctor’s visit, there are some home remedies for yeast infection that will go far in alleviating the symptoms or even eradicate it altogether.
Knowing how to treat a yeast infection at home and naturally is the key.
Do yeast infections go away on their own?
If you have a mild vaginal yeast infection, then there is a chance it will go away on its own. Sometimes the vagina needs time to be able to rebalance.
But this only helps if you know it’s a yeast infection. It could also end up being an STD or bacterial infection causing the symptoms. If you’re not sure, ask your doctor to do a test and clarify the situation.
How long does it take to get rid of a yeast infection without treatment?
If you know how to treat a yeast infection at home, then you can certainly give it a try. However, if it’s not getting better within a few days, see your doctor.
It could end up being something else entirely.
How to treat a yeast infection at home
If you want to know how to treat a yeast infection at home and naturally, prioritize prevention.
This requires cleaning gently down below with no perfumes, scents, or chemicals to disrupt the natural balance.
Also, wear clean and breathable underwear. This will provide a barrier and keep other bacteria from getting in and setting up shop.
→ gentle cleansing
→ avoid leather panties. But those sound incredibly uncomfortable anyways.
Most importantly, follow a healthy, real food diet.
Remember that health begins on the inside. Sugar feeds yeast and promotes overgrowth. By eating only nourishing foods, your immune system will have a fighting chance and your body will quickly heal.
Need some healthy recipe ideas? Check out our recipes section.
What remedies can I use for a yeast infection?
Treating a yeast infection at home will encourage your body to heal on its own. And while you won’t find all of them in your kitchen, you may have one or two that you can use right now.
- Olive leaf extract – has strong anti-fungal powers and can be taken orally to cut down on yeast. Grab a good one here.
- Apple cider vinegar – is a natural anti-fungal, and when taken internally can tone down yeast overgrowth. Many people drink it daily to boost the immune system. Get it here.
- Coconut oil – has gentle anti-fungal properties, and can be frozen into suppositories that can be left in overnight. Make sure to wear a pad to absorb what comes back out! Buy high quality coconut oil here.
- Tea tree oil – known for its anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties, it can be mixed with coconut oil and applied on the outside of the vaginal area. Make sure it’s well diluted, or it could sting. Get the organic tea tree essential oil we recommend here.
- Plain Greek yogurt – studies have shown that eating 8 oz of yogurt containing live Lactobacillus acidophilus each day decreases candida colonization. So make sure there’s no sugar added (that feeds the yeast) and get your yogurt on! (And, by the way, you can apply yogurt and kefir topically to replenish good bacteria down there!)
- Take quality probiotics. – Also consider drinking kombucha and kefir and eating fermented foods like sauerkraut; these are great ways to get good quality probiotics into your gut. This helps to keep our delicate vaginal (and gut) biome balanced! Get our favorite probiotics here. (Again, you can also apply probiotics topically.)
- Boric acid suppositories – you can put these capsules into your vagina at night time. When it’s repeated for a couple of weeks, boric acid suppositories have helped many women with recurring yeast infections get rid of them. Buy them here.
Many of these natural remedies help to restore balance. And unlike harsh antifungal medications, these home remedies will also preserve the communities of healthy bacteria and yeast in your vaginal canal.
Give a few of them a try, kick that yeast infection for good, and get back to focusing on the stuff that makes being a woman awesome.