I currently live in Bombay and work as a freelance photographer and writer. My interests vary from organic farming to natural health.
What Is a Yeast Infection?
Yeast, Candida albicans, is a harmless fungus that is part of the natural flora in a woman's intimate area and the male and female intestines. An imbalance in natural flora can lead to the excessive growth of yeast and subsequent infections. Such an imbalance can be caused by a number of avoidable factors, namely antibiotic use, high estrogen levels during pregnancy, or underlying health issues such as diabetes or HIV.
Symptoms include itching, burning, a yeasty smell, and white discharge. Any woman that has experienced a yeast infection knows how unpleasant it can be. While certain factors can increase the risk of an infection, it is still not well understood why some women are more prone than others. If you suffer from regular yeast infections, you might be interested in trying some of these natural home remedies to keep your flora in balance and yeast infections a memory of the past.
How to Prevent Yeast Infections
Wear loose-fitted clothing and avoid synthetic fabrics and underwear.
Wash yourself with water rather than perfumed cleansers, and keep yourself dry.
Use only natural and non-irritating feminine hygiene products, including those used during menstruation.
Use contraception and practice standards of care during intimacy. Yeast infections can be transferred between partners.
Eat well, exercise, and practice good sleep habits. Introducing probiotics into your diet may help prevent infections.
1. Keep Yourself Ventilated
Since yeast thrives in warm and damp surroundings, ventilation is one of the best preventive measures. Wear loose clothes during the day such as skirts and loose pants; avoid tight jeans and leggings.
Make sure your panties are made of cotton—artificial fibers such as nylon, polyester, and leather fabrics retain heat and moisture. If you like your nylon panties, just make sure that they have a cotton crotch or use a mini pad during the day. Also, change out of wet swimsuits immediately after finishing your swim, as the moisture will increase the risk of infection.
Sleep naked during the night, or leave your panties off under your nightie. Give your body a beautiful eight hours of rest to recover its natural balance.
2. Keep It Clean
It is important to keep yourself as clean as possible if you suffer from regular yeast infections.
- Wash with plain water (soaps remove the natural oils that protect your skin).
- Since your internal body parts are naturally self-cleaning, try to avoid douching as this can push infections up into your uterus.
- Wipe yourself from front to back after using the toilet to make sure that no unwanted bacteria and yeast come into contact with your sensitive areas.
- You can also try to make yourself a cleansing bath. Fill a tub halfway with warm water and add ½ cup of salt and ½ cup of vinegar. This combination matches the body’s natural vaginal pH of 4.5. Simply sit in the water until it cools down.
- It is not as easy as you might think to destroy the spores of Candida. Wash your underwear at a hot enough temperature or add a cup of white vinegar during the rinse cycle of your washing machine.
- You can also scrub the crotch of your panties with mild detergent before adding them to the washing machine if you want to be on the safe side.
3. Keep It Natural
Adding chemicals to an already unbalanced internal flora can easily trigger yet another yeast infection.
- Avoid scented personal products such as scented tampons or sanitary pads, and make sure they are made of cotton instead of synthetic fiber.
- Stop using powders, as these products contain starch on which yeast can thrive. Avoid any other chemicals such as douches, contraceptive gels, sprays, and foams.
- Use only natural lubricants during intercourse, such as petroleum jelly (Vaseline, not to be used in combination with condoms) and even plain yoghurt.
- Don’t use scented oils, as the perfume can cause further irritation.
- Avoid colored toilet paper as the ink in them is another irritant that is said to be linked to yeast and bladder infections.
Once you have a yeast infection, you can try rubbing 1 to 2 tbsp of plain yoghurt on and in your intimate parts—the lactobacteria will help to restore the acid-bacteria balance. Alternatively, you could use lactobacillus tablets from your local health store.
To relieve the itchiness of a yeast infection, you can prepare rosemary tea and gently dab it with a clean cloth on the external areas of the affected body part.
Always consult a medical professional for a proper diagnosis of your symptoms. Make sure your home remedy is approved by your physician before treating symptoms internally.
4. The Lover's Cove
Intercourse is another potential risk that may trigger an unwanted yeast infection.
- Both partners should wash their intimate parts and hands before intercourse to avoid transferring extra yeast.
- Use only natural lubricants, and avoid direct contact with spermicide to maintain the natural balance inside your body.
- Urinate directly before and after intercourse to flush out your urethra to avoid bladder infections.
- Using a condom will further prevent you from passing a yeast infection back and forth between you and your partner.
- You might want to reconsider your mode of contraception if you suffer from persistent, recurring yeast infections. Though the exact mechanism hasn't been understood yet, birth control pills might lead to a higher glycogen content in your female parts and thus increase the risk for yeast infections.
- Last but not least, you should avoid intercourse while you are having a yeast infection, as this might cause further irritation or might lead to reinfection through your partner later.
5. Keep the Balance From Within
Ultimately, a healthy immune system is more likely to maintain a healthy balance and beat an upcoming yeast infection before it fully unfolds. Try to eat healthy, wholesome, and organic foods, exercise regularly, and get a good night’s sleep.
Excessive consumption of dairy products and artificial sweeteners has been linked to a higher risk of yeast infections. Instead, you can try to eat probiotic yoghurts to increase your lactobacteria, have some cranberry juice to acidify your urine and eat two raw garlic cloves to take advantage of its anti-fungal properties.
Additionally, a well-balanced diet should contain less sugar. Yeast thrives on sugar, so high sugar content in your food or a predisposition to diabetes can lead to yeast infections. Avoid overuse of caffeine, alcohol, or any other drugs, as this will stress your immune system.
These home remedies will not always be enough to prevent or cure an ongoing yeast infection completely. In cases of bad yeast infections, you should use an anti-fungal cream. If you have chronic yeast infections and are following these home remedies already, you should consult your doctor and try to find the cause of the problem. Yeast infections can be the result of your overall emotional and physical well-being and sometimes can't simply be treated with home remedies.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
Subhas from New Delhi, India on May 16, 2013:
The remedial tips are going to help so many of us in our day to day life. Very nice and helpful remedies.