Vaginal thrush is a fungal infection caused by Candida Albicans. Symptoms can include thick smelly white discharge and burning, itching and swelling. Most women have experienced this and some experience it again and again or even chronically. (There are other infection that could cause similar symptoms and a visit to gynecologist would certainly help with the diagnosis.) Antifungal creams or other antifungal medications are mostly prescribed.
Candida Albicans is an organism that can be isolated from skin, mouth, vaginal mucosa, stool and blood of normal and healthy people. The presence of candida in small numbers has no harmful effect. The body`s own natural defence mechanisms keep the numbers down to harmless levels in healthy individuals. This is done by the environment in the body being kept in a way that favours good and beneficial micro-organisms and keeps harmful ones at bay. If this balance is disturbed for whatever reason resulting in an overgrowth of candida albicans it does however become harmful and can be a difficult infection to get under control.
The natural defence mechanisms against candida overgrowth include:
- the indigenous vaginal flora
- natural acidic pH in the vagina maintained by the flora (lactic acid producing bacteria)
- good gut flora
- immune competence
- an intact mucosal barrier kept healthy by hormones and nutrition.
Considering all of these factors is therefore key to successfully treating candida albicans infections. This is why so often after simply using antifungal medication the yeast infection keeps on coming back.
The vaginal flora is greatly influenced by microorganisms of the perianal region, the skin flora and the gut flora. Other important factors that can compromise the vaginal flora include sugar consumption, antibiotic use, contraceptives, stress, immunosuppressants, hygiene factors, hormones and sex.
Sugar consumption supports candida overgrowth. Candida albicans utilises a variety of sugars, including sucrose, dextrose, maltose, galactose, xylose and trehalose, not however melibiose, cellobiose, inositol, raffinose, dulcitol. In some individuals itching and burning reoccur even when consuming fruit or “sugar free” products containing other sugars such as maltose.
Some women have recurring vaginal infections after intercourse. The reason for this is that semen is alkaline and the natural protective environment of the vagina against the infections is acidic. Use Naturefresh Intimate Wash (see below) to simply wash with or also use as a douche after intercourse to help prevent such infections.
Contraceptives can lower zinc levels in the body (among other micronutrients such as vitamin C, folic acid and B6) and zinc especially is vital for the immune system. Zinc supplementation while on contraceptives can be highly recommended. The other micronutrients could and should also be supplemented daily a long as contraceptives are used.
Be very careful to take antibiotics only when really needed. One course of antibiotics can alter the gut-flora balance for up to a year and therefore compromise the vaginal flora significantly.
For more information, read: If not antibiotics, then what?
What to do to get rid of thrush/yeast infection:
- Take natural antifungals, such as Solgar Wild Oregano Oil or Grapeseed extract for at least 2-8 weeks.
- Use Naturefresh intimate wash for the vaginal and perianal area.
Do NOT use other soaps in this area even after the infection has healed. Soaps are generally alkaline and can interfere with the naturally protective acidity and flora.
Naturefresh intimate wash can also be used as a vaginal douche – dilute exactly as directed on the bottle. (Get a douche kit from a pharmacy, but use with Naturefresh intimate wash only instead of solutions often sold with the kit that would kill the good flora with the bad.)
- Consider using Naturefresh lubricant as a lubricant or either to apply for all day protection if there is some vaginal dryness.
- Eat right: Avoid all sugar and anything that would increase blood sugar fast. This includes fruit juice, baked goods, biscuits and sweet fruits (bananas, oranges, etc.).
- Take a top quality probiotic supplement and make sure you do what you can to boost your gut flora naturally.
A multifactural approach is key to treatment and prevention of vaginal thrush/yeast infections. Immune competence, balanced vaginal and gut flora and intact vaginal mucosa all work together for optimal vaginal health.