Forewarning. This post will include words like vagina, vulva, moist, and discharge.
If that squicks you out, you can back out now, OR you can put on your big girl (cotton) panties and keep on keepin on.
This is a less than enchanting, slightly embarrassing post. But I also feel a need to share what I’ve experienced and learned just in case there’s another beautiful, itchy queen out there experiencing the same issues. Those issues being horrid happenings in the nether regions accompanied by raging desperation for relief.
We’re gonna talk about yeast infections.
(bolded just in case anyone sitting nearby doesn’t have a clear view of the topic at hand)
First things first. Yeast infections are incredibly common. If you end up with one, please know you’re not alone. Your sisters are with you. Your provider has seen it before. The receptionist has heard it all. The CVS cashier will have a far more awkward transaction within the hour, I assure you.
What are the symptoms?
Burn, itch, discharge, swelling, redness, rash. Severe cases can lead to excessive swelling, extreme pain/discomfort, or splitting, peeling skin.
It’s important to note that the symptoms of a yeast infection can mirror those of other issues like bacterial vaginosis or STDs/STIs. If you’re not sure whether it’s yeast, grab yourself an OTC test (some tests may not test for ALL types of candida) or see your provider for confirmation.
What causes it?
Sex (any type of sex, with or without a yeasty partner), menstrual products, cleansers, vaginal sprays, underwear fabrics, friction, hormones, medications, pregnancy, diabetes, diet, booze, poor hygiene, douching, a full moon on a Tuesday.
What should you do?
You can go to the doctor and receive a pill or suppository. They may not prescribe anything, but rather advise you on which OTC products to buy from your local pharmacy.
OR you can attack that thing (the infection, not your vagina) with a slew of natural remedies that honestly, legitimately, really work.
The most important step after confirmation is to start your chosen treatment method immediately. Many various types of bacteria live inside your body at any given moment, but an imbalance can lead to infections or other complications. The longer it’s left untreated, the greater the imbalance. The greater the imbalance, the more gnarly the manifestation.
- Cut out sugars. Yeast feeds on sugars, so ex-nay that crotch poison ASAP.
- Nourish your body with the things it needs to restore balance and fight off infection. Good, candida balancing foods, sunshine, water, a rested but exercised mind and body. Candida overgrowth can happen in the intestines, so plan your healing on a broad scale.
- Keep the area clean and dry. Yeast thrives in moist places. Rinse yourself with warm water every time you use the restroom. (A peri bottle is excellent!) Pat thoroughly dry. You could even use a hair dryer on a low, cool setting.
- Give it some room. Go commando when possible and stick to appropriately fitted cotton underwear. If it makes you feel sexy or makes your butt look awesome, it’s probably not the best option for the time being.
- Give the bad bacteria a run for its money. Use PLAIN yogurt (as in one ingredient) topically. Topically? Yes, topically. Rinse and reapply often to the vulva, getting between the labia and inserting into the vagina if you can. The yogurt contains probiotics which help to neutralize and balance the baddies. It’s also very soothing for the irritation. (Get the Greek version and carry a few fresh panty liners. You’ll thank me.)
- Take a quality, refrigerated probiotic. I take two a day when I’m having symptoms, one in the morning and one at night. Probiotics have majorly affected my life in the best ways. Get some.
- Go full blast if necessary. Inserting garlic cloves (with a knotted string threaded through for easy removal), grapefruit seed extract supplements, apple cider vinegar baths, and diluted tea tree oil are all popular options.
- If you choose to go with an OTC suppository, choose the longest treatment available. Usually a seven day kit. The one day kits will SET YOU ABLAZE, and the three day kits may not supply the area with medication over enough time to fully cure the infection. (pro tip – These suppositories can have side effects similar to that of the infection itself. You might notice your symptoms worsen a bit before they improve.)
Be diligent with your regimen! Even with OTC suppositories or prescription medications, it can take a good 7-14 days for most infections to completely heal. If your symptoms noticeably worsen without any eventual improvement, get yourself to your preferred provider for expert assistance.
How can you prevent it?
- For the love of genitals, PLEASE don’t use “products” on your lady bits. Special feminine washes, SPRAY FRESHENERS… It’s a reproductive organ, not an old sofa.
- Be serious with your food intake. Some foods can exacerbate candida overgrowth while others help your body maintain it’s natural, ideal flora. Yogurts, fermented foods, vitamin rich meals… Your body is a masterpiece. Treat it kindly.
- Stay in tune. Sometimes after a little panky hanky, I realize that maaayyybe I could have used a little more lubricant of some sort. Or maaayyybe I should have asked my husband to shave. (I’M JUST BEING HONEST WITH Y’ALL. Don’t side eye me too hard, ok?) Sometimes I feel a little off during ovulation or just before my period arrives. These are the times to pop a probiotic, have some sauerkraut, and skip the frappuccino.
- Wear vulva friendly clothes. Breathable, dry fabrics. Not too tight. Nothing that rubs the wrong way. Always, always, always bring a change of pants when going to the beach or pool.
- Cross your fingers, jump on one foot, sing Hey, Diddle Diddle thrice, and hope you never have to endure the flames of such evils ever again.