Yeast infections used to be a monthly occurrence for me and it went hand in hand with frequent urinary tract infections. I would finish one treatment to start a new one a few weeks later. It was a constant battle to dealing with infections, OTC treatments, prescriptions and little hope for improvement. The infections were so frequent, I ended up on daily antibiotics to prevent urinary tract infections. I also had huge sensitivities to feminine products, lubricants, condoms and soaps. These allergies resulted in frequent skin infections as well. My infections and treatments were spiraling out of control. I decided something had to change for my health and symptoms to improve. These infections disappeared like magic after using Nutrigenomics for 3 months. Nutrigenomics is the science of using nutrient rich compounds to impact genetic expressions and wellness. To establish a healthy vagina the body needs to have a healthy balance of good bacteria in the gut and vagina. A huge part of my treatment was finding a good probiotic that was effective for both vaginal and gut flora. Before nutrigenomics, I had used a multitude of products with little improvement. At the time I didn’t realize that not all probiotics are created equal. Probiotics don’t always have the right bacterial strain for both areas. Probiotics also have to pass the stomach acid and make it to the intestines to be effective and not all probiotics make it past the acid. This probiotic was the answer to my prayers, it had an immune component and a special coating to protect it in the gastic acid. It finally offered a way to combat my weak immune system, weak digestive tract and vaginal flora. Thankfully, the treatment was very effective, I have been infection free for almost 1 year and a half. I recently acquired my first infection from using a new vaginal lubricant. Since, I am so sensitive to latex, vaginal products and lubricants, I knew it was a possibility and tackled it quickly. I actually was excited that I found an OTC test to check for yeast infections. The test is a simple way to test your vaginal flora at home. It contains a small swab to insert into the vagina and test your vaginal flora for bacteria or yeast infections. If the swab stays yellow you have a yeast infection and using an OTC Monistat product of your choice will treat the problem. If the swab changes color then you need to see a doctor for further testing and treatment. My results showed a yeast infection and I chose 1 day Monistat treatment which worked great. My symptoms resolved quickly and I was back to normal in a few days. You can also call your doctor for a prescription cream or pill for the yeast infection. Diflucan is an oral medication that kills the yeast with one dose.
Now, let’s tackle yeast infections and find the root cause of the problem. It seems simple, get an infection use an OTC medication and its over. But the fact is most women don’t experience only one infection. Yeast infections are a sign of an underlying medical problem that is lingering in hiding. Candida can be growing rapidly throughout your body and symptoms can be vague and seem unrelated.
Some common signs of Candida:
- Cravings for sweets and sugar
- Brain fog
- weak immune system (frequent infections)
- Bad breath
- Hormone imbalance
- Frequent UTI (urinary tract infections)
- Lack of libido
- Chronic sinus and allergy issues
- Digestive problems (gas and bloating)
- White coating on your tongue
- Joint pain
So let’s talk about the systemic yeast infections a little further. There can be a bigger health issue at hand when you have frequent yeast infections. Some health concerns that are related to yeast overgrowth are leaky gut, diabetes, weak immune system and even medications. The list above explains a bunch more symptoms of yeast infections. Some medications that cause issues are antibiotics, birth control, corticosteroids and cancer treatments. If you are experiencing multiple symptoms then its time to look at your overall health because systemic yeast can continue to grow and multiply. Building your immune system with nutrient-rich compounds, probiotics and omega 3 fatty acids will help strengthen the immune system, build gut flora and support your body. Diet is also a huge factor in yeast infections. A diet high in sugar and carbohydrates feeds the yeast and allows overgrowth to continue. So truly combating yeast is complex and the body needs the right nutrition to fight back. If you simply have vaginal symptoms than keep reading, you might have some sensitivities. I will write a more thorough article about system yeast soon.
Something that may surprise you about yeast infections. Safe sex might be giving you yeast infections. Sounds crazy, I know but I experienced first hand. If you are a using condoms or lubricants and experiencing yeast or bacterial infections, then stick around. Speaking from experience with frequent UTIs and yeast infections, vaginal sensitivities could be the culprit. Vaginal tissue is already very delicate and finicky but add skin sensitivities to the mix and you have a big problem. Over the years, I had to learn my body, patterns, symptoms and products that caused irritation and flare ups. I learned that I have an extremely sensitive and allergic vagina. I experienced tons of yeast infections and UTIs after safe sex practices and learned a lot about my body. Soaps, lubricants, feminine products (tampons and pads) and condoms are all part of the phenomena. These products are filled with chemicals, irritants and fillers that can impact vaginal flora and irritate the delicate skin. Body wash and soaps can cause irritation to the vulva and outer labia when you shower. If you feel dry, itchy or irritated after a shower, try buying a hypoallergenic feminine wash with out scents. I have been using Summers Eve feminine wash for more 20 years to avoid this issue. Now there are store brand options as well with the same ingredients, so use those if you prefer. Not all lubricants are created equal, it might take several tried to find the right lubricant for your vagina. If you are not using condoms coconut oil is a great natural option that hydrates the skin. There are a bunch of water based hypoallergenic options. Definitely, look at the labels and read ingredients, less is better, so read and compare. It make take a few tries and repeat infections before you find the right one for you. I found one lubricant called aloe cadabra that appears to be very pure, no chemicals, additives, hormones or estrogen. I am trying this one myself to see how it works. But the battle is not over, trying to find the right condom is also essential. So now that you have a pure lube, if you continue to develop issues with safe sex practices, then its time to look at the condoms. First, eliminate latex condoms and try another option. There are a variety of options out there but remember lamb skin does not protect against STDs, so use only to avoid against pregnancy. The condoms are also tons of options, so read the boxes and compare to find your best option. It make also take a few tries before you find one that works for you. Be patient and learn your body, its okay if you don’t figures it out right away. I know the infections are uncomfortable and annoying but your health is important and learning your own body is key. Now, back to feminine products, tampons and maxi pads can also irritate your delicate skin. I experienced tons of issues with feminine products and learned a lot about my body by testing my options. Maxi pads and tampons are filled with chemicals to absorb the menstrual blood and stop odor. These chemicals can irritate the delicate tissue and even cause abscess or infections. I experienced monthly abscesses and infections with menstruation until I figured this out. I tried all the top brand maxi pads and experience symptoms requiring frequent antibiotics. Vaginal abscesses are extremely painful and sometimes require draining by a physician. Hopefully, you don’t need one because draining an abscess in the vagina can be extremely painful because the skin has a huge blood supply and does not numb effectively for procedures. Let’s just say, ouch, I hope you don’t need an incision and drainage in your vaginal labia. I tried for months, maybe even years to find my answers because there was just no information out there for people like me. I went from top brand to to organic options and ended up with washable fabric pads. In my case, I stayed away from tampons completely because there was no way I wanted irritation inside my vagina, it was bad enough to have issues in the labia. I stayed using fabric washable pads for years and then alternated between those and organic cotton disposable pads. But I can tell you eventually, i just got sick of the trouble and decided to get an IUD to avoid menstruation completely. Thankfully, after my hysterectomy, I have one less vaginal issue.
More facts about vaginal sensitivity you might not realize. Vaginal sensitivity can go beyond the typical products I mentioned before. It can include exam gloves and foley catheters too. I am a huge advocate for myself at the doctor and hospital to ensure any product to approach my vagina is absolutely free of latex. Unfortunately, I learned it the hard way with a severe kidney infection. After having a c-section for my first son, I got a severe bladder infection that went to my kidneys. I felt irritation with the foley but didn’t pay much attention. After the infection, I started thinking and realized the foley was latex. I learned and started advocating for myself quickly after that day. I keep an eye on doctors and gloves to make sure they are latex free. I also ensured the hospital was aware for my second c-section. So, if you are sensitive to latex condoms, advocate for yourself and make sure your doctor and hospital know, before they come anywhere near your vagina. The most important thing to remember to to listen to your body, learn your symptoms and advocate for your health.
Simple tips for vaginal yeast infections:
- warm soaks in bidet or tub to soothe skin
- keep area dry
- avoid excess sugar in your diet
- drink plenty of fluids
- use a topical cream for the itch
- take a test before using OTC vaginal treatments
- avoid irritating soaps
Preventions is key:
- wear cotton panties
- keep area clean and dry
- wash area with feminine soap and water after sex
- take off wet bathing suits and put on a dry one
- pay attention to soaps, lubricants, feminine products and lubricants