Healthplan Spain


Yeast Infections: Symptoms, Causes, And Home Remedies Health Tips

For those well-acquainted with the intricacies of vaginal care, from selecting optimal soaps for the intimate areas to embracing feminine wipes, the emergence of yeast infections can be both frustrating and uncomfortable—especially when prompt medication is not readily available.

But are there any home remedies that do help fight yeast infections?

In this article, we answer this question as well as what the symptoms are to look out for and what causes a yeast infection.

Mayo Clinic reports that vaginal yeast infections affect up to three out of four women at some point in their lives, with many experiencing recurrent episodes. Dr. Carolyn Mills, an obstetrics and gynaecology hospitalist at Northwestern Medicine Kishwaukee Hospital, states that yeast infections, caused by the candida species, stand out as one of the most common sources of vaginal itching and discharge.

Demystifying yeast infections

Candida, ordinarily a benign inhabitant of the skin and body, transforms into an infection when conditions in the vagina promote its unchecked growth. Changes in the immune system, hormonal shifts, and certain medications can elevate the risk of infection.

Deciphering common yeast infection symptoms

While some individuals may harbour a yeast infection without displaying any symptoms, others may experience the following:

  • Clumpy white discharge
  • Vaginal itching
  • Vulvar redness
  • Discomfort during urination
  • Pain during sexual intercourse
  • Small cuts, or tiny cracks in the vulvar skin

Root causes of yeast infections

Dr. Mills emphasises that yeast infections result when candida becomes the predominant organism, triggering bothersome symptoms. Factors such as recent antibiotic use, uncontrolled diabetes, elevated oestrogen levels (common in pregnancy and postmenopausal hormone replacement), and a compromised immune system heighten the risk. Innocuous items like douche washes, soaps, spermicides, and tight-fitting clothing can also contribute to infections.

How can you prevent a yeast Infection?

Dr. Mills recommends behavioural changes to minimise symptoms, including avoiding douching, tight clothing, and scented feminine products. Condom use during intercourse, proper cleaning of contraceptive devices, and adherence to dryness practices are also recommended. Caution is advised against scented products, and changing out of wet clothing promptly is also advised.

For individuals experiencing frequent yeast infections, consulting with a healthcare provider is prudent. Dr. Mills suggests considering birth control adjustments for women on pills with lower oestrogen doses and maintaining blood sugar control for patients with diabetes.

Home remedies for yeast infections

While yeast infections necessitate treatment with over-the-counter antifungal medications, there are additional self-care measures to alleviate symptoms, they include:

  • Over-the-Counter Treatments: Dr. Kelly Culwell, a board-certified ob-gyn, recommends various over-the-counter topical or vaginal treatments containing antifungal medication. However, she cautions that self-diagnosis may be unreliable, and consulting a healthcare provider is prudent.
  • Cool Compress: For external itching, a simple cool compress applied two to three times daily can provide relief.
  • Hydrocortisone Cream: A thin layer of hydrocortisone cream or a non-scented moisturiser, if safe for vulvar skin, may alleviate external itching caused by a yeast infection.
  • Yoghurt: While not conclusively proven, small studies suggest that consuming yoghurt with live cultures could support a healthy vaginal microbiome, potentially aiding in the prevention of yeast infections over time.

Home remedies to approach with caution

Popular online remedies like boric acid, tea tree oil, and hydrogen peroxide lack sufficient scientific backing. Dr. Culwell advises against their use without proper medical supervision, highlighting potential disruptions to pH balance and natural bacteria.

When should you see a healthcare provider?

Dr. Culwell stresses the importance of consulting a healthcare provider if uncertain about symptoms or if over-the-counter treatments prove ineffective. Persistent or recurrent yeast infections may require prescription medications such as oral fluconazole or further evaluations, including yeast cultures.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Are yeast infections sexually transmitted?

No, according to Dr. Culwell, yeast infections are not transmitted through sexual activity. The symptoms arise from an overgrowth of fungal organisms naturally present in the vagina at low levels. While some individuals may associate yeast infections with vaginal sex, it's important to note that the alteration in the vaginal environment by semen can lead to the overgrowth of fungal organisms, but the infection itself is not sexually transmitted.

Q. How can I determine if I have a yeast infection or another condition?

If you are uncertain, the most effective way to discover whether you have a yeast infection or another underlying issue is to seek guidance from a healthcare provider.

Dr. Culwell recommends undergoing an examination and testing. Generally, yeast infections manifest with a characteristic thick and clumpy white discharge, accompanied by vaginal or vulvar itching or burning. Any deviation from these typical symptoms, such as a different-coloured discharge (blood-tinged, brown, green, yellow), an unusual odour, or pelvic pain, warrants professional medical evaluation.

Q. Why do I experience recurrent yeast infections?

Dr. Culwell acknowledges that some women are prone to recurrent yeast infections, citing potential causes like a resistant strain of yeast requiring different treatment or other genetic and medical factors.

Risk factors for recurrent yeast infections include antibiotic use, poorly controlled diabetes, hormonal contraceptives containing oestrogen (e.g., patch, pill, or ring), vaginal contraceptives like the diaphragm or sponge, a weakened immune system (due to chemotherapy, HIV, etc.), and pregnancy.

If you face frequent yeast infections, your healthcare provider might recommend tests for diabetes or suggest changes in birth control methods to address the recurring issue.

In conclusion, mastering vaginal care and understanding the nuances of yeast infections empowers individuals to navigate their intimate health confidently. The journey toward optimal vaginal health involves not only self-care practices but also collaborative efforts with healthcare providers. In the pursuit of well-being, staying informed and seeking professional guidance when needed remain the cornerstones of a healthy and empowered approach to vaginal care.

Source: Women’s Health Mag