What is vaginal thrush?
Vaginal thrush is a common vaginal yeast infection caused generally by the fungus Candida resulting in a range of uncomfortable symptoms. With an estimated three out of four women likely to suffer from vaginal thrush during their lives, there are a lot of myths for preventing thrush and remedies that do not work to eliminate this condition, also known as candidiasis.
The yeast organism, Candida, when left unchecked in the body, begins to multiply and eventually this develops into the condition thrush. The candida organism is always present both on and inside our body. Candida usually reside in our gut, vaginal and genital areas, under armpits and anywhere where it is warm and moist. These candida are generally kept in check by friendly bacteria that reside within and on our body, however if the balance is disturbed, then thrush develops.
Symptoms of vaginal thrush
The most common symptoms of vaginal thrush include itching, swelling, soreness, burning and irritation of the vagina. For some women, a creamy cheese-like discharge often accompanies the above symptoms. Urination can be painful as can sexual intercourse.
What causes vaginal thrush?
Usually there does not appear to be one single cause that would pinpoint the reason for developing vaginal thrush. It often develops due to a multitude of factors as outlined below:
- A weak immune system allows Candida to thrive.
- Antibiotic usage diminishes levels of friendly bacteria which keep Candida in check.
- Being pregnant affects the female hormones which can disrupt the pH lining of the vagina.
- At times of menstruation because, again, imbalances in the sex hormones can make the yeast organism thrive.
- Certain drugs such as steroid treatment which suppress immunity.
- Taking birth control pills can make you more susceptible.
All these factors can have a negative effect on the balance of the friendly bacteria, which keep pathogens like yeast and fungi under control.
How can you prevent vaginal thrush?
I have listed below some tips to prevent vaginal thrush:
- Avoid using fragranced hygiene products such as bath gels, foams, feminine sprays, toilet paper and sanitary pads. Use unscented products whenever you can.
- Avoid using contraceptive foams and gels which can disturb the pH of the cells lining the vagina.
- Do not over-wash the vagina area because doing this will eliminate the beneficial bacteria that keep yeasts and other pathogens in check.
- Wear loose under garments. Keeping the vagina cool and dry prevents the Candida from flourishing.
- Hand wash your underwear if you can. Believe it or not most washing machines are contaminated with bacteria unless you clean your machine every month. Use unscented laundry soaps such as the ones used for babies.
- Wipe sensibly after visiting the washroom.
- Avoid sugar-laden foods since these will provide the food for the yeast to thrive.
Myths about vaginal thrush
There are many common myths surrounding vaginal thrush and I have only written about some common myths:
- Vaginal thrush always results in a discharge. This is not true as many sufferers do not have a discharge.
- Douching helps to prevent vaginal thrush. Not true, in many instances using soapy water actually disturbs the vaginal pH and encourages yeast to thrive. Over-washing also eliminates the friendly bacteria that keep the yeast from thriving.
- Yeast-free diets will help to prevent vaginal thrush. Not true at all. Yeast in food is completely different from the yeast infecting organism.
- Live or natural yoghurt applied to the vagina is a treatment option. Not true and there is no scientific basis for this. The theory of using live yoghurt to overcrowd the yeast in the vagina has never been scientifically validated.
Natural remedies to treat vaginal thrush
There are many over-the-counter remedies with anti-fungal agents available from your local chemist or drug store. Largely containing anti-fungal drugs in the form of tablets or pessaries, these do help to cure the yeast infection however for one in five women, these treatments do not work. When an infection recurs more than four times a year, this is known as complicated thrush. In many instances, these drugs can disturb the pH lining the vagina which is why many women choose to use natural remedies that do not affect the body.
The first natural remedy that I would recommend is Horopito and Aniseed capsules. Horopito is an ancient herb used by the Maori people of New Zealand. The Maori people would chew the leaves of the Horopito plant and then spit the juice onto infected skin. Early European settlers also found benefits in the use of Horopito leaves as a tea for digestion and infections.
Analysis of the Horopito leaves shows that it is rich in a compound called polygodial. In 1982 scientists at the University of Canterbury discovered that polygodial was faster acting and stronger in its action at destroying Candida albicans than the powerful pharmaceutical anti-Candida drug, Amphotericin B.
Horopito Aniseed capsules work from within the body to destroy Candida whether they are in the vagina or elsewhere. We do not need this yeast but have to live with it as it is everywhere.
One of the main ways that women treat vaginal thrush is through the use of a thrush cream. There are many thrush creams on the market but some of these contains synthetic preservatives, parabens, mineral oils and other compounds likely to disturb the beneficial bacteria in the vagina.
The thrush cream I recommend is Kolorex Intimate Care Cream. This cream contains the extracts of horopito mentioned above for its anti-fungal properties but crucially it also contains lactic acid. Lactic acid is the compound that inhibits yeast and other harmful microorganisms from thriving in any part of the body including the vagina so its inclusion in Kolorex Intimate Care Cream not only helps in reducing the numbers of Candida but also inhibits them from thriving under any circumstance.
Finally, if you suspect that your immune system is low, then please consider the use of Daily Immunity, a supplement that provides a comprehensive blend of immune supporting herbs, vitamins and probiotics which all work in synergy to help restore the immune response.
Vaginal thrush is an uncomfortable condition that can be eradicated and prevented if you choose the right remedies and take the appropriate steps.