8 ways to fight off a yeast infection

October 9, 2015

If you've ever had a yeast infection, you know that it's not an experience you want to repeat. By taking steps and making minor changes, you'll be able to stave off another unpleasant infection.

8 ways to fight off a yeast infection

Like a rainforest, the vagina is a complex and delicate ecosystem, home to a variety of microscopic organisms. In this case, mostly bacteria (both "good" and "bad") including the yeast-like fungus Candida vulvovaginitis.

  • Candida resides in the vagina trouble-free in up to half of all women, but for others, catalysts like menstruation, pregnancy, diabetes, antibiotics, oral contraceptives and steroids can disrupt the ecosystem and cause Candida to overgrow.
  • This usually leads to the itching, soreness and burning of the all-too-common yeast infection. Keep yourself infection-free with this advice.

1. Favour cotton down below

  • Skip that ubiquitous nylon lingerie in favour of old-fashioned cotton, which lets air in and helps prevent yeast from breeding.
  • And always wear undies under your pantyhose.

2. Keep the area dry

  • After a shower or bath, use a blow dryer on the coolest setting (be careful not to burn yourself) to dry your vaginal area before getting dressed.
  • And change out of a wet swimsuit as soon as possible. Yeast loves damp environments.

3. Wipe the right way

  • After bowel movements, wipe from front to back, never back to front.
  • One theory about yeast infections is that "bad" bacteria get into the vagina from the rectum, disrupting the environment that normally keeps yeast in check.

4. Spoon up some yogurt

  • Some studies suggest that eating 227 grams (eight ounces) a day of yogurt that contains live, active bacteria cultures helps maintain a healthy vaginal environment and could reduce the risk of recurrent yeast infections.

5. Stick to regular sex

  • Nix the oral sex for a while if you're susceptible to yeast infections, or at least cut back.
  • Having your partner perform oral sex five or more times a month can increase your risk of yeast infections.

6. Avoid dyes, perfumes and "feminine products"

  • Skip coloured or perfumed toilet tissue, scented sanitary pads and tampons, douches, powders and other intimate products, all of which can disrupt the normal vaginal environment and irritate the genital area.

7. Follow a low-GI diet

Just as women with diabetes are more prone to yeast infections, so too are women with insulin resistance. This condition occurs when cells become resistant to insulin, the hormone that allows glucose into cells, leading to higher than normal blood sugar levels.

  • Foods made with sugar, high-fructose corn syrup and white flour — which include most store-bought baked goods as well as crackers, cookies, chips and sweetened drinks — all contribute to insulin resistance because they spike blood sugar.
  • White bread and white rice do the same. Instead, eat foods with a low glycemic index (GI), which have less effect on blood sugar. These include most high-fibre foods like vegetables, legumes and whole grains; "good" fats from olives, nuts and avocados; and lean protein foods.

8. Drugs that prevent disease

Up to 30 percent of women taking antibiotics are prone to yeast infections. The drugs can kill off beneficial bacteria that keep vaginal flora in balance.

  • If you're taking antibiotics and you're prone to yeast infections, consider taking an over-the-counter probiotic ("good" bacteria supplement) with bacteria such as lactobacillus to maintain the appropriate checks and balances, or eat a cup of yogurt with live, active cultures every day.
  • Also keep some over the counter anti-yeast creams or suppositories (miconazole or clotrimazole) on hand and use at the first sign of vaginal itching.
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