Yeast infections……never a fun time. It is estimated that 75% of women will have at least one yeast infection during her lifetime.1 Even more fun, approximately one in six women suffer from “recurrent vulvovaginal candidiasis”, meaning they have more than 4 yeast infections per year!1
What causes a yeast infection?
Yeast infections are caused by a type of yeast called Candida in your vaginal tract. There are over 20 different species of Candida, the most common being Candida Albicans. It is a commensal pathogen, meaning it resides naturally in small amounts in your digestive tract, on your skin, and in your vagina. Symptoms occur when there is an overgrowth of Candida.
What are the symptoms of a yeast infection?
The most common symptom is extreme vaginal itching and a burning sensation. A tell-tale sign of a yeast infection is thick, white discharge that resembles cottage cheese (sorry if you never want to eat cottage cheese again). Some women also experience pain during intercourse, and might notice a swelling of their vulva.2
Why do I keep getting yeast infections?
There are several risk factors that contribute to the overgrowth of Candida. These include, but are not limited to:
- Vagial lubricants
- A diet high in refined sugar
- The birth control pill.
Is my birth control causing me to get yeast infections?
High levels of estrogen can rapidly induce growth and maturation of Candida Albicans. That’s why yeast infections are more common in young women and decline during menopause when estrogen levels drop.3 Women who are on a high dose birth control are at a much greater risk for developing recurrent yeast infections. For women not taking the birth control pill, high levels of circulating estrogen (estrogen dominance) can trigger yeast infections, especially right before or after menses. For more information on estrogen dominance, see my blog post on Fibrocystic Breast Disease.
Help! I wanted to be rid of this infection yesterday.
One of the best natural treatments for yeast infections is probiotics. Research has shown that taking a probiotic supplement containing the two strains, Lactobacillus rhamnosus and Lactobacillus reuteri, significantly improves treatment.4 As always, speak to your Naturopathic Doctor before taking any natural health product to determine which one is right for you.
Along with taking the right probiotic, the following lifestyle recommendations may help prevent and treat yeast infections:
- Avoid tight fitting clothing and underwear: ditch the thongs and leggings for full cotton underwear, loose pants and skirts.
- Say goodbye to sugar: A diet high in refined sugar, yeast and alcohol has been shown to both cause and exacerbate symptoms of yeast infection.5
As a licensed ND, I help educate my patients on better dietary choices and provide comprehensive meal plans that fit their lifestyle.
Spring is the perfect time for decluttering your life and making health a priority. If you are interested in learning more and want to say goodbye to yeast infections, book a 15 minute complimentary consultation to get started today.
Murina F, Graziottin A, Felice R, Radici G, Di Francesco S. The Recurrent Vulvovaginal Candidiasis:Proposal of a Personalized Therapeutic Protocol. ISRN Obstet Gynecol. 2011, 2011:1-4.
Ramsay, A, Astill N, Shankland G, Winter A. Practical Management of Recurrent Vulvovaginal Candidiasis. Trends in Urology Gynaecology & Sexual Health. 2009, 14(6):18–22.
Beckmann C, Herbert W, Laube D, Ling F, Smith R. Obstetrics and gynecology: 7th Edition. Lippincott; 2014.
Martinez, R. C. R., et al. “Improved treatment of vulvovaginal candidiasis with fluconazole plus probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus GR‐1 and Lactobacillus reuteri RC‐14.” Letters in applied microbiology 48.3 (2009): 269-274.
WATSON, C., & CALABRETTO, H. (2007). Comprehensive review of conventional and non-conventional methods of management of recurrent vulvovaginal candidiasis. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, 47(4), 262-272. doi:10.1111/j.1479-828X.2007.00736.x