We've all had one... Even seeing "Yeast Infection" on the computer screen, we just want to scroll it away and bolt as fast as we can, as if even just the thought could bring one to us. But it doesn't need to be a fear. In fact, getting a yeast infection doesn't always need to get to such a miserable point. It happens, it's natural. There are also many ways to avoid and limit the occurrence of yeast infections as well as get rid of them effectively without spending money on a bunch of treatments that may not be working for you.
The below article was written by my dear friend, Audrey Stein. She was experiencing recurring and intense infections, following treatment directions, changing her diet, etc, and was still having a hard time kicking the problem. So she-took control and did her own in-depth research and has compiled this information in an effort to help other women take charge of their bodies and vaginal health. Thank you, Audrey!
Yeast Infection Tips - By Audrey Stein
Hey everyone! Here’s my post about yeast infections. I was trying to keep it as concise as possible (it’s basically an article now) but note that there are a lot of considerations when dealing with reoccurring yeast infections. I’m not a medical professional. That said, the research on women’s and vaginal health appears to be fairly limited, so I found tapping into the mind hive and looking for consistency across different websites was pretty helpful. The 4 main things that helped me were boric acid, probiotic supplements, changing my diet, and keeping my vaginal area dry. I also want to address a new type of medication resistant yeast that seems to have emerged in recent years (that’s what I had). Furthermore, I want to acknowledge that all of our bodies are different and this is just what worked for me. For more detailed info, keep reading!
Treatments when over the counter (OTC) treatments don’t work:
1) Boric Acid suppositories: Sooo many people vouch for it in their treatment of yeast infections! It not only helps with YI, but also BV and vaginal odor because it balances out your pH. It comes in a capsule, and you insert it into your vagina by hand or with a clean applicator (like what you get with Monistat). Some people continue using it a couple times a week after treatment to maintain vaginal health. I’ve had a good experience with pH-D, found at Target for about $18. Feminiva was also recommended in the video below. Note that the most effective boric acid comes in powder form inside the capsule, but some are in crystal form and aren’t as helpful.
(The Benefits of Boric Acid: Video Below)
2) Probiotics: The results of studies on the use of probiotics are mixed, and from my experience, they didn’t eliminate my symptoms. However, I feel they reduced the intensity of my symptoms, and are highly beneficial to your health and immune system, so I would recommend them. When looking for a probiotic, look for those with 10 or more strains, include lactobacillus acidophilus, and the ones that have to be refrigerated are typically best. The one I’m using I found at Meijer is from the brand Solaray (Mycrobiome Probiotic, women’s formula). It was $35 -unfortunately they can be a bit pricey- but I did get a BOGO 50% off deal on it.
3) Eating garlic/garlic supplements: This might not totally cure it, but it does benefit your immune system and it’s fairly inexpensive.
4) Terconazole (prescription medication): I was diagnosed with a newly emerging medication resistant yeast and this wiped out the symptoms. However, after 3-4 uses, it really agitated the inside of my vagina (the instructions said to use it for 3-7 days). I discovered in the reviews of this product that many women had similar issues with it. When I tried it a second time later on, I used it only once. The symptoms were pretty much gone, and my skin wasn’t irritated. After that point, I maintained my results by continuing to treat it with natural treatments (I go into further detail about that under Other Considerations).
5) Plain Greek yogurt/kefir: Putting yogurt/kefir on my labia topically was beneficial in helping with itchiness and burning. Some people swear by putting it on a tampon and inserting it, but I felt inserting and removing the tampon irritated my vagina.
Note: I don’t have any experience with the fluconazole pill, so I don’t know how effective it is. Please feel free to add your experience with it in the thread!
This seems to be the thing that has had the greatest impact for me.
1) Simple sugars: Do not eat most sugars, especially processed sugars-yeast loves it! I also start with sugar because other types of food produce sugar in your body (carbs, starches, dairy, alcohol), so you want to avoid these things, as well. Some sites recommend ridding of fruit. I seemed to do okay with small portions of fruit at breakfast, particularly those high in vitamin C and with low sugar content (strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, lemons, limes, avocado, and grapefruit). Love sugar like me? I used stevia in my coffee, tea, and on my oatmeal to add some sweetness!
Fruit with low sugar content: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/320078#eight-low-sugar-fruits
2) Carbs: Highly processed carbs, flour-based foods, foods made with glucose (i.e., white bread, crackers, white rice, etc.). Eating oatmeal, quinoa, brown rice, and gluten free foods worked well for me. I’ve also read that whole grain bread is fine. I had no issues with it when I ate it occasionally.
3) Alcohol: This is a biggie! It’s best to avoid it altogether because most alcohol includes sugar and/or carbs. I occasionally drink vodka sodas, which has not affected me negatively.
4) Starches: Foods such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, and corn. I will note that small portions of these things did not seem to impact me.
5) Dairy: Pretty much all of it exept for plain Greek yogurt and kefir because they both include probiotics.
6) Other suggestions: It is thought that some types of nuts, like peanuts, pistachios, and cashews can make a YI worse. Consuming almonds and walnuts are perfectly fine. Some sites recommended eliminating caffeine. I haven’t, and it hasn’t seemed to impact me. Eating lean meats is recommended (chicken, fish, etc.). Also, no fried foods.
Websites on the candida diet:
Keeping your vagina dry:
Yeast thrives in (I know some people hate this word) moist areas.
1) Wear breathable, cotton underwear.
2) When you can get away with not wearing underwear, do it! I quit wearing undies to bed. With that said, wash your bottoms more frequently.
3) Wear skirts, dresses, loose fitting pants. Cotton is best (I’ve been living in cotton leggings and sweatpants). Clothes that retain moisture like tight jeans and nylon keep vaginal area moist.
4) Pat-don’t rub- your vaginal area dry when you get out of the shower. Rubbing can make the infection worse.
5) Notably, I have been most prone to YI when I’ve been on my period, especially because pads/tampons keep moisture in. Try using cotton cloths instead.
● See a doctor to make sure it’s a yeast infection. BV and some STIs have some similar symptoms, so it’s important to test for those, too.
● If your yeast infections are reoccurring, it’s important to get tested for diabetes.
● IMPORTANT: As mentioned above, I discovered that after multiple uses of OTC treatments (i.e., Monistat/miconazole), I had developed what the nurse at PP described as a “new kind of yeast.” It sounds like with overuse of the OTC drugs, a more resistant yeast develops. I hadn’t seen anything on the internet about it, so I wanted to share that info.
● Even after your symptoms are gone, it’s important to take care of your vagina as though it still symptomatic. If you’re highly prone to getting recurrent infections, keep treating it to ensure the elimination of the overproduction of yeast (your vagina naturally has some yeast in it) and to balance your pH. After using Terconazole, I maintained vaginal health by using boric acid for 14 days, maintaining a probiotic regiment, and eating clean (I’m still figuring out how long to do this for, but I’m going for at least a month). Avoiding vaginal sex for about a month after the beginning of treatment is recommended, as well.
● Medications like birth control (especially IUDs because the infection can cling to it), antibiotics, and meds for BV can cause YI. I’ve read that probiotics can help.
● I really appreciate this tip from Bridget Osborn in my previous post: “Medications honestly can put you into a viscous cycle because after your vagina is clear from yeast, it takes time to adjust back to normal and those sort of ups and downs of your PH balance can really take their tole longterm, so even with all of this advice in mind, some women are flat out more susceptible to them. It doesn't mean the woman practices poor hygiene or is neglectful, I know it sucks to hear it but some women just flat out have a harder time with it than others.”
● It’s important for your partner(s) to get tested and treated for yeast infections, too, as you may be passing it back and forth.
● Condom/dental dam use is beneficial as the bacteria from the genitals/mouths of others can mess with your PH balance. This is particularly helpful if you have multiple partners.
● Shaving and waxing agitates the vaginal area and can make the infection worse.
● Cleaning your vaginal area: Using warm water alone is best (I did not know this until recently)! Scented soaps, douching, feminine wipes can screw up your pH. Scented laundry soaps can cause YI, as well.
I hope this was helpful! Let me know if you have any questions or if you have additional info to add to the mind hive, please post below!
Audrey Stein lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She is a board certified music therapist and graduate student in the social work program at Grand Valley State University. Over the past 10 years, she has worked with a variety of populations, including people with developmental disabilities, the elderly, and people with various health conditions. She is an advocate for intersectional feminism, as well as social justice and equity in the healthcare system.