In 80 to 90 percent of cases, vaginal yeast infections are caused by a yeast known as candida albicans. Lately, another candida species known as candida glabrata is showing up with increasing frequency, possibly due to widespread use of over-the-counter drugs for yeast infections. Candida glabrata doesn't respond as well to the commonly used drugs, but does respond well to something as simple as boric acid suppositories.
As many women know all too well, the main symptoms of yeast infections are vaginal discharge and itching of the genital area. The discharge is usually white, and varies from being a little to a lot, from being thin and mucousy to thick, curdy and cottage cheese-like (with anything in between being possible). The amount of itching varies, but can be severe enough to interfere with sleep and normal activities. Some women notice a characteristic odour suggestive of bread dough or the fermenting yeast smell of beer being brewed.
Other frequent symptoms are swelling, redness and irritation of the outer and inner lips (the labia), painful sex and painful urination due to local irritation of the urethra.
A woman with a full-blown yeast infection is acutely uncomfortable and requires immediate treatment if possible. If you suspect that you have a yeast infection see your doctor as soon as possible in order to get cultures of the vaginal secretions taken, before you take any over the counter medication. Other types of vaginal infections can co-exist or produce a similar picture of signs and symptoms.
Pregnant women with yeast infections should not use any douche or suppository or herb suggested below, but should seek treatment from their doctor.
Boric acid is an effective, inexpensive treatment for both candida albicans and candida glabrata infections. It costs under five dollars per bottle. Boric acid can be put in 00 gelatin capsules and inserted high into the vagina once or twice a day for seven days. As an alternative, a douche can be made using two tablespoons of boric acid to one quart of lukewarm water and used daily for a week.
Another natural over-the-counter drug is betadine douche or suppository, made from iodine and effective against both yeast and trichomonas. Trichomonas is caused by a pear shaped parasite and can cause symptoms which can mimic yeast infections.
Tea tree oil vaginal suppositories taken every night for seven to fourteen days is another remedy recommended for both yeast and trichomonas. The suppositories are available from health food stores.
A douche made of golden seal and myrrh once a day for three to five days is useful for resistant yeast infections. The douche is made by covering one teaspoon of golden seal powder and one teaspoon of myrrh powder with one quart of boiling water and letting it steep until cool.
Avoid using pre-made homeopathic suppositories for yeast, which can cause a terrible aggravation of symptoms.
Persistent reoccurring yeast infections may be part of a larger picture involving widespread overgrowth of yeast organisms in the whole body. This syndrome is not yet recognized by the medical profession, except in patients with severely compromised immune systems. Proponents say chronic yeast syndrome is common and causes symptoms affecting every system of the body. Symptoms include fatigue, brain fog, depression, irritability, diarrhea alternating with constipation, food and environmental allergies, menstrual problems including PMS, infertility, asthma and other respiratory illnesses.
Treatment involves taking the friendly bacteria known as acidophilus, and following a special diet avoiding sugar and highly refined foods, yeasted breads, fermented or mouldy foods and fruit juice. Natural or prescription anti-yeast medications (taken by mouth) for six weeks to six months are also usually recommended.
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