Only a woman who has experienced a vaginal yeast infection knows the value in trying to prevent them from EVER happening again. We may not be able to stop them entirely, but we can certainly take steps to reduce the risks. If you are among the unfortunate group with frequently recurring yeast infections, you may want to try a few of these tips and hopefully they will help you.
What is a yeast infection?
A yeast infection occurs when the natural bacteria of the vagina are imbalanced and an overgrowth of fungus known as Candida albicans occurs. Symptoms include extreme itching, burning and discomfort in the vagina and sometimes the vulva along with white, clumpy discharge that looks like cottage cheese, and pain during urination and sexual intercourse.
Higher risks for yeast infections include:
- Taking antibiotics which kill the good bacteria
What can you do for prevention?
- Reduce sugar intake/simple carbs: Consuming high amounts of sugar from soda, candy, and even alcohol can throw off the balance of bacteria in the body and provide fuel for the "opportunist infection" known as candida, according to Dr. Wilson, a medical doctor and nutritional consultant. Eating a diet high in white bread, white rice and regular pasta also provide a steady source of food for the candida fungus (not to mention wreaking havoc on your blood sugar). Switch to whole grains such as brown rice, whole grain breads and pastas to cut down on the simple sugars. Find alternatives to soda, such as fruit juice without added sugar or stick with water and unsweetened teas. This reduces the opportunity for the candida fungus to multiply.
- Eat fermented foods: Dr. Christiane Northrup, an expert on women's health, recommends fermented foods such as miso soup, sauerkraut, plain yogurt, kefir (fermented milk), and tempeh (fermented soy), to provide the body with a steady supply of healthy bacteria to replenish the digestive tract and vagina. Incorporate these foods into your diet throughout the week to ensure that the body maintains the proper ratio of bacteria.
- Take probiotics: Probiotics also provide healthy bacteria, but in much higher dose than the above mentioned foods. Taking probiotics regularly, especially if you are in a high risk category or you need to take antibiotics, will help prevent an imbalance of vaginal flora and control the candida fungus. There are even probiotics on the market specifically meant to replenish vaginal bacteria, most commonly lactobacilli.
- Wear cotton underwear (organic preferably): Candida yeast thrives in moist, warm environments, so to help regulate the temperature of the vagina, cotton is best. Cotton allows the vagina to breathe and ventilate, whereas polyester and synthetic materials trap moisture and heat. Organic cotton is gentler on the skin with no harsh chemicals or toxic residue, protecting the genital area from this chemical assault.
- Eat garlic: This wonderful food is a natural anti-bacterial and anti-fungal remedy. Using fresh garlic in your cooking on a regular basis will protect the body from bacterial and fungal takeovers. Not to mention the overall health benefits of this delicious accompaniment!
Image via Luci Correia