Vaginal thrush is something almost every women is familiar with. We don’t always know why it happens, and it usually clears up with a tube of anti-fungal cream, but what about when it doesn’t?
These are a few things that no-one ever tells us:
*The vagina is ideally an acidic environment. Semen has an alkaline pH. Sex three times or more in a 24 hour period will leave the vagina with an alkaline pH – ideal for candida growth (just goes to prove G-d has a sense of humour)
*if you have sex and you didn’t know you had a yeast infection, or you thought it was clear, you pass it on to your partner. Men seldom show symptoms, but by the time you are clear and you have intercourse again, he gives it straight back to you – that’s why it feels like it never goes away. Make sure that when you treat yourself with anti-fungal cream that your partner uses it too, externally (of course) for the same 7 days
* Never underestimate the damaging power of antibiotics. These medication kill not only the bad bacteria, but also the good ones that are responsible for keeping gut, skin and vagina acidic and healthy. While using antibiotics and after, use a product that stimulates your good bacteria. One course of Antibiotics can unbalance your flora for up to 1 year!
*Hormonal changes (e.g. due to pregnancy, breastfeeding or menopause) can reduce the numbers of lactobacilli, and eventually cause an increase in vaginal pH (thus, reduction in acidity). If you are breastfeeding or are in menopause, try a prebiotic product that can stimulate the good bacteria to grow and keep your pH value in the healthy range. A healthy dose of Progesterone cream rebalances hormones, strengthens the vaginal lining and ensures correct pH of secretions.
*During periods, blood increases vaginal pH because it is naturally more alkaline. This does not cause infection, but underlying or dormant candida may flare up. Chronic candidiasis (yeast) and bacterial vaginosis — common complaints that aren’t true infections but rather an imbalance of bacteria — are caused by things like diets high in sugar, synthetic hormones (The Pill), not enough sleep and too much stress. Women get infections not because of periods — this is supposed to happen — but because they are otherwise not robustly healthy (Dr E Alleman).
*According to PubMed there is no difference between tampons and pads – basic hygiene being the most important issue.
*Douching and cleansers: Any vaginal infusion of water or other fluids can negatively affect vaginal pH. The pH of water is 7, and fragrances and perfumes can also irritate the vagina. The vagina is likened to a self-cleaning oven – it doesn’t need our assistance! Even bath soaps, especially highly perfumed variants, can influence this very fragile ecosystem. Wallowing in a hot bath is fantastic for yeast infections. These bacteria love the warm water and flourish there. So if you’re prone to infections, showering with unscented liquid soaps are a much healthier option. (Jacuzzi water is absolutely lethal to vaginal health)
Also, *Panties with a cotton gusset sound old fashioned, but are the answer for hyper-sensitive women. G-strings encourage the movement of bacteria across the perineum (from the back to the front) as does wiping in that direction. Scented toilet paper and liners can be irritants. Some highly scented or coloured laundry liquids and softeners are also culprits. Chemical and fragrance free varieties are available from all Good Health Shops and are worth a try if you’re a chronic sufferer…