Yeast infections are a sensitive topic, but up to 75% of women will experience this uncomfortable health problem during their lifetime.
Along with vaginal yeast infections, Candida yeast can also cause oral thrush as well as invasive candidiasis, a dangerous condition involving the kidneys, heart, brain, or other internal organs.
If you’ve ever had a yeast infection that keeps coming back, you already know that 1-day, 3-day, and 7-day products like Monistat and Vagisil don’t always do the trick.
Keep reading to learn yeast infection facts and myths, signs and symptoms of yeast infection, and the six best ways to get rid of candidiasis for good.
What is a Yeast Infection?
Yeast infections, also called fungal overgrowth or Candida overgrowth, can affect your vagina, mouth, skin, nails, hair, or internal organs.
While most yeast infections are uncomfortable but not life-threatening, invasive candidiasis–when yeast enters your bloodstream–is a serious medical condition.
Candida, a genus of yeast, is responsible for the majority of yeast and fungal infections. There are hundreds of different species of Candida, but in most cases, the symptoms are similar regardless of the exact Candida species.
Vaginal yeast infections, also known as candidal vulvovaginitis or vaginal thrush, are caused when Candida yeast normally present in the vagina in small numbers begins to grow excessively. Risk factors include antibiotic use, pregnancy, diabetes, and HIV/AIDS.
Oral candidiasis, also called oral thrush, mainly affects infants, senior citizens, and people with impaired immune systems. Among these groups, the rate of oral thrush is between about 5-30%.
And while up to 45% of adults carry oral Candida, this does not always result in oral thrush provided they have healthy immune systems.
Yeast Infection Myths
If you’re dealing with a yeast infection, the last thing you need is inaccurate info. Before you learn more facts about candidiasis, here are some myths you can safely disregard.
Yeast infections are not caused by tight clothes, any particular type of underwear, or personal hygiene. On the other hand, if you already have a yeast infection, you may be more comfortable wearing loose-fitting clothing.
And while your cleanliness doesn’t appear to affect your risk of candidiasis, using douches or scented personal care products may increase your likelihood of getting a yeast infection, so it’s wise to avoid them.
Candidiasis isn’t sexually transmitted, despite what some people believe. However, some of the symptoms of vaginal yeast infections are also symptoms of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) like gonorrhea and chlamydia.
If you think you may have a yeast infection, it’s smart to see your physician to receive a diagnosis and rule out STIs.
5 Signs and Symptoms of a Yeast Infection
#1: Vaginal Itching
Vaginal itching is the most common and earliest symptom of most yeast infections. In some cases, itching is the only symptom.
#2: White or “Cottage-Cheese” Discharge
If you notice an unusual vaginal discharge, it could be caused by a yeast infection. Most commonly candidiasis results in a white discharge with an appearance similar to cottage cheese, but it can also be watery and clear.
#3: Irritation and Inflammation
Some women with yeast infections experience redness, irritation, or inflammation around their vaginal canal and vulva. This isn’t always the case, but if you notice this sign, it points to a yeast infection–particularly if you have other symptoms.
#4: Burning During Sex or Urination
Burning during sex or urination can have many causes, but it’s also a common symptom of vulvovaginal candidiasis. If you notice burning that doesn’t go away, or is accompanied by other symptoms, you may have a yeast infection.
#5: Vaginal Rash
A red rash in the folds of your vagina is a classic sign of yeast infection. Rashes caused by Candida can also spread to the skin near your vagina.
Natural Ways to Get Rid of a Yeast Infection
- Wild Oregano Essential Oil
- Coconut Oil
- Try a Strict Elimination Diet
While over-the-counter creams may work in the short term, nearly half of women experience two or more yeast infections in their life. For some women, yeast infections can occur over and over again, especially around their periods.
If you’ve tried OTC products with limited success, the good news is that other methods may work better to eliminate or prevent yeast infections.
You can use these home remedies to reduce your discomfort and get rid of yeast infections for good.
#1: Wild Oregano Essential Oil
Wild oregano–different from the oregano at the grocery store–contains the powerful antifungal compounds thymol and carvacrol. Thymol is also a common ingredient in mouthwash.
According to research, essential oil made from wild oregano can inhibit or stop the growth of Candida albicans.
Surprisingly, you don’t need to apply the oil topically. In other words, don’t put it on your vagina. Instead, apply it to your skin to avoid irritating your vagina.
To use wild oregano essential oil, mix 3-5 drops with a carrier oil and apply it to your skin once or twice per day, or inhale through a diffuser.
Because it can have blood-thinning properties, don’t use essential oil of oregano if you have a bleeding disorder or take blood thinners.
#2: Coconut Oil
Coconut oil, made from the flesh of coconuts, has antifungal and antibacterial properties thanks to the lauric acid and capric acid it contains.
A 2016 study suggests that coconut oil is about 70% as effective as over-the-counter drugs for eliminating yeast infections.
As long as you aren’t allergic to coconuts, topical coconut oil is a safe and effective way to treat Candida albicans overgrowth.
You can use coconut oil by itself, or combine it with other yeast infection remedies. Apply it directly to the affected area twice daily.
#3: Try a Strict Elimination Diet
If you have a food allergy or sensitivity, it can throw off your immune system. As a result, you’ll be more likely to get yeast infections unless you change your diet.
To prevent or treat Candida overgrowth more effectively, eliminate the following foods for a minimum of two weeks and drink nothing but filtered or spring water:
- Pasta, rice, breads
- All Dairy
- Anything Processed
- Fruit juices
- Sugars (sugar cane, molasses, maple syrup, honey, and corn syrup)
- Soy Sauce
- Peanut Butter
Some of the foods listed above are common allergens, while others can change your body’s pH or may harbor fungus.
It’s also a good idea to use a high-quality, multi-strain probiotic like Clinical Probiotic for several months to recolonize with good bacteria.
How to Deal With “Herxing” or Candida Die-Off
If you follow the tips in this article diligently, you’ll start to feel much better as your body clears Candida. Most women will also notice some weight loss as an added bonus.
However, at any point, you may feel worse for a few days or a week before feeling better. This is due to what’s called a Herxheimer reaction (“herxing” for short). As the Candida yeast dies, it can release toxins and compounds that will cause a temporary worsening of symptoms.
Should you notice fatigue, lethargy, skin flare-ups, or other signs of die-off, make sure to get plenty of rest and drink extra water. For most people, this helps reduce die-off symptoms.
The key is to stick with the protocol as long as it takes to feel better. Usually Candida die-off symptoms follow yeast infection treatment are short-lived.
Yeast infections can be embarrassing and uncomfortable, but now you know how to get rid of them for good.
Before you treat a yeast infection, make sure to get a proper diagnosis to rule out other serious conditions.
If you want help with candida, the office of Dr. Thaddeus Gala at Complete Care specializes in treating Candida overgrowth. You can give us a call to ask questions or set up an appointment at your convenience.