If you’re a woman who’s never had a yeast infection, you’re very lucky. Millions of women have this condition and don’t even know they have it. If you find that you have one, it’s best to try a natural remedy first. Yeast infections are caused by an upset in the body’s natural balance. Commercial medications relieve the problem, but do nothing to restore that balance.
Yeast infections are usually caused by Candida albicans, a kind of fungus that is naturally present in all bodies. Normally candida is not harmful, in fact it’s beneficial. But under certain conditions it can multiply excessively. Most women get yeast infections in and around the vagina. The vulva can also be affected. A yeast infection “outside” is not unheard of and can be very painful.
Yeast infections can be caused by any number of things including stress, antibiotics, high blood sugar, drinking a lot of beer, pregnancy, birth control pills, too much douching, too-tight underwear and panty hose or perfumed sanitary products. Active people are particularly prone to an overabundance of candida because it thrives in perspiration.
You can also pick up a yeast infection in hospitals. If you have diabetes or AIDS, you are more likely to get a yeast infection. It can also be transmitted through sex, although it is not considered a sexually transmitted disease in the same sense as gonorrhea. Virgins, both male and female, get yeast infections all the time. Even young children can get them.
Do I Have A Yeast Infection?
The usual symptoms are irritation, inflammation, and mild to extreme discomfort. You may notice a smell like beer or baking bread. Vaginal yeast infections are sometimes confused with another problem, bacterial vaginosis, which has similar causes but has a fish smell. If you think you have this, especially if you are pregnant, stop reading this right now and consult a doctor or nurse-practitioner. Bacterial vaginosis can be very serious.
Yeast infections can occur on other parts of the body. Some people get them under their fingernails. Women with large breasts get yeast infections on the undersides, especially if they can’t wear brassieres due to shoulder strain.
What About Men?
Men get yeast infections too, and not just from contact with an affected partner. The same things that cause yeast infections in women can cause them in men. Symptoms include a rash on your penis, “jock itch”, and what may appear to be prostate trouble. Some guys may get joint pain, diarrhea, have trouble concentrating, get irritable or just very tired.
Curing Yeast Infections Naturally
The first thing to do for a yeast infection is to cut back on sugar, fried foods, coffee and meat. Instead, drink as much water as you can, and eat a lot of yogurt. If you can’t eat plain yogurt, buy fresh blueberries or raspberries and mix them in. Take some plain yogurt and put it in or on the affected area.
Take lactobacillus — acidophilus pills, which you can find in any drug store. Eat cranberries or take cranberry extract capsules. Drink plenty of ginger tea.
Some natural health experts recommend garlic. You can put it in your food, take capsules, or — believe it or not — put a clove right into the vagina. Men, try garlic oil or the juice of fresh garlic. Oregano oil capsules are also recommended.
For women, dong quai and chasteberry herbs help to restore the female balance. Women can also take a very mild vinegar and water douche — one tablespoon or less of apple cider vinegar to a quart of water. You can also try a douche of raspberry or comfrey tea. Don’t overdo this, however.
Our Bodies, Ourselves
In the early days of the women’s liberation movement, groups of women met to learn about female anatomy and how to manage simple health problems like yeast infections. If you’re interested in learning more about natural ways of treating female problems, get a copy of “Our Bodies, Ourselves” by the Boston Women’s Health Book Collective.