Natural Cures for Yeast Infections
Yeast infections are very common; as many as three quarters of all women worldwide will suffer from a yeast infection at one point in their lives. These infections are usually caused by a fungus called Candida albincans, found in small quantities in the vagina. At times, the fungus propagates rapidly, thus causing a full-fledged infection; the causes are numerous, but are usually related to a change in the vaginal environment.
Heat and moisture, for instance, may encourage propagation of the fungus; allergic reactions and elevated levels of sugar are also culprits. A leading cause of yeast infections among American women is antibiotics; we may take an antibiotic to kill unwanted bacteria in one part of our bodies, but the drug at the same time can kill beneficial bacteria in the vaginal region, allowing the fungus to take over. Other common causes are tight or unclean clothing (which may trap in heat and moisture); chemicals (from commercial douches, perfumed toilet paper, some laundry detergents, bubble bath additives, and more); condoms lubricated with the spermicide nonoxynol-9; certain hormones (pregnant women are particularly susceptible); and even a diet that is excessive in yeasty foods.
Symptoms of a yeast infection may include itching or burning around the vaginal region; a vaginal discharge that is white, with the consistency of cottage cheese; and pain or burning during both sexual intercourse and urination. If you have never had a yeast infection, it may be a good idea to consult with a doctor before undertaking any treatment on your own, particularly if the symptoms are severe. Also, if your immune system is weakened (due to cancer treatments, for instance); if you’ve had other infections in your urinary tract or vagina; or if you’ve had multiple sexual partners (symptoms of some sexually transmitted diseases are similar to those of yeast infections), then see a doctor.
However, if you believe your case is not severe, there are a number of natural cures that you can undertake on your own to treat your infection. A simple change of habit may alleviate the conditions. Use chemical-free products such as unscented, undyed toilet paper and fragrance-free laundry detergents. Wear unbleached, undyed cotton underwear and breathable clothes, and don’t wear underwear at all when you’re sleeping. Avoid pantyhose. Cut down on yeasty foods, sugars, and alcohol.
Some very basic household items may also help alleviate a yeast infection. Plain yogurt is full of good bacteria that combats yeast; yogurt can be applied either internally (using a tampon dipped in yogurt) or externally, by simply rubbing it in. Be sure to use only plain, unsweetened yogurt; the sugar that is prevalent in most store-brand yogurts will simply act to feed the fungus.
This “good” bacteria, or probiotics, is also available as an oral supplement, and the use of such supplements have shown promising though inconclusive results in lab tests in combating yeast. Probiotics is also available as a vaginal suppository, though such suppositories may be more difficult to find.
Garlic is another common item that kills yeast; this is most effective at the onset of a yeast infection. Simply take a fresh garlic clove, peel off all the covering while leaving the clove intact, and press the clove into your vagina just before going to bed. The next morning, remove the clove and dispose of it. You may have a watery discharge, but one night should be sufficient to kill off any yeast. If not, repeat for a few nights. Oddly, the moment you insert the clove into your vagina, the garlic taste travels to your mouth; to avoid this sensation, you can also use a garlic tablet, provided the ingredients are natural.
Apple cider vinegar is also an effective cure, but directly applying vinegar to the vaginal region will cause severe burning. It is best to add a cup of apple cider vinegar to your bath water, and take a long, relaxing bath. Do NOT use white vinegar; this will feed the yeast rather than kill it.
Tea tree oil, which is an essential oil, is often mentioned as a natural remedy for yeast infections, though this should be diluted before applying to the vaginal area. Or, apply a few drops to a tampon and insert the tampon into the vagina. However, as tea tree oil is a strong substance, and in the absence of clinical evidence for its effectiveness in curing a yeast infection, proceed with caution.
Boric acid has mild antifungal and antiseptic properties, and in tests has been found to be effective in treating a yeast infection. Boric acid can be taken orally, but studies have shown that a boric acid vaginal suppository has a higher cure rate.
Any of the natural remedies may be successful or at least helpful in controlling a yeast infection, but if you have a severe infection, or if your natural remedy is not working for you, then consult with a doctor.