When I got a yeast infection last year, I was embarrassed when my gynae spotted it in the PAP smear. The kind doctor that he is, he said that yeast infections are common among women even if they practise excellent personal hygiene.
I’d experienced some itching “down there” but thought it could be due to sweat from all that running around. Thus, I was even more religious about changing my clothes and taking extra, long and thorough showers instead of the usual quick showers.
I was given an antibiotic pill and in a few days, the itching stopped. Phew, so did my worries! After all, who likes getting an “abnormal” result in their PAP smear report?
However, I wish that someone had taught me that the following practices increase the chances of a yeast infection:
- sweating while exercising, staying in a wet swimsuit,
- wearing tight clothing like jeans or synthetic panties (e.g. nylon or spandex) – we’re women, we wear dresses and skirts
- birth control pills,
- feminine hygiene sprays,
- scented tampons,
- bubble baths or
- perfumed toilet paper
Yeast infections during pregnancy
Higher hormone levels can also increase your risk of a yeast infection during pregnancy.
Even if you tried your best to keep the vaginal area clean and dry, a yeast infection can easily occur during the third trimester when you’re about to deliver.
Some yeast infections can be passed on to baby in the form of “thrush” (a yeast infection in the mouth). Here’s more info on vaginal thrush.
In some cases, you may have bacterial vaginosis (not a yeast infection) and that needs oral medication because no treatment could lead to a preterm delivery (Reference: What to Expect When You’re Expecting: 4th Edition by Heidi Murkoff, Arlene Eisenberg and Sandee E. Hathaway).
Guess what? Antibiotics help to treat the yeast infection but will also increase your chances of getting fungal or other vaginal infections!
Here’s a guide on normal / abnormal vaginal discharge.
What can you do about it then?
Talk to your doctor.
IMPORTANT: While yeast infections are generally harmless, you SHOULD talk to your doctor if you notice anything unusual “down there” i.e. itching, a lot of discharge, thick discharge etc especially if you’re pregnant.
Pregnant women cannot take Diflucan (by Pfizer) as it’s been linked to birth defects in babies.
How to treat yeast infections:
- STOP eating foods that are high in sugar and carbohydrates because candida albicans, the bacteria that is responsible for the yeast infection thrives on sugar;
- Eat a healthy diet consisting of natural fats e.g. chicken with skin and oils especially butter, protein, lots of leafy green vegetables and anti-fungals like virgin coconut oil and crushed, raw garlic. Did you know that whatever you eat during your third trimester will also become your baby’s favourite foods when he/she starts solids later too?
- Drink lots of water
- Get enough exercise
- Use soap-free, fragrance-free products to clean your intimate area.
- Try not to use feminine hygiene products as long term use may disrupt the pH balance (more acidic) of your vagina.
- Wear 100% cotton panties (and none of those 5% spandex types…)
- Keep your vaginal area dry. Wipe yourself dry after you rinse the area with water.
Does yogurt help to cure yeast infections?
“…a healthy diet low in sugar, fats (not true!), and processed foods is a good first step to a healthy vagina.”
Here’s the traditional Chinese medicine point of view on candida that also stresses a healthy diet:
Elimination of simple sugars, supplementation of B vitamins, sometimes via intra muscular injections (per a Medical Doctor’s recommendation) when the epithelial lining is badly damaged, Vitamin C, Biotin, Acidophilous which is primarily found in the small intestine, Bifidous, primarily found in the large intestine, manganese, magnesium, chlorella, essential fatty acids, herbal formulae, and exercise can serve as the foundation towards regaining balance.
Many women who eat 8 oz or more PLAIN, unsweetened yogurt every day report that they do not suffer from yeast infections anymore. I’m gonna try that!
A healthy, balanced diet for a healthy balance
I’ve been reading up on yeast infections and found these 2 “recipes” for a healthy diet i.e. The Candida Diet, which treats and prevents yeast infections once and for all:
- Healing Naturally by Bee Wilder
READ this section: “How to Successfully Overcome Candida” – you’ll be surprised at how many health problems are actually due to candida albicans.
Gonna try out her recipes :D
- The Candida Diet
- Vegetables starve the Candida of the sugar and mold diet that feed it. They also absorb fungal poisons and carry them out of your body.
- Avoid starchy vegetables such as sweet potatoes, potatoes, yams, corn, all winter squash, beets, peas, parsnips and all beans except green beans. (You can drink the soup made with starchy vegetables though)
- You should buy your vegetables fresh and eat them raw, steam or grill them. Add a little garlic and onions for flavor as they are especially helpful with Candida.
- Kim Chi is made of fermented vegetables such as cabbage, onion, cucumber, peppers, garlic, radish. The probiotic bacteria in Kimchi will help kill off the candida in your intestine. Raw sauerkraut works in the same way.
- Olives are OK as long as they are not in distilled white vinegar.
- You can eat all types of seaweed including chlorella and spirulina.