How to Fight and Prevent BV, Yeast, and Candida Infections Naturally
7 minute read
Yeast infections and BV (Bacterial Vaginosis) are all too common among women. Much of the trouble lies in the fact that these infections can be asymptomatic and, without treatment, they only get worse.
However, with early detection and treatment, you can easily clear up these opportunistic infections and restore vaginal health. The good news is that there are natural ways to do this by making a few dietary and lifestyle changes, potentially without any need for medications or messy applications.
What Lies Behind the BV & Yeast Infections
While many infections are asymptomatic, there are usually ways to detect the presence of one so you can begin treatment right away. White discharge, itching, pain, and unpleasant odor are common signs that you have a BV or a yeast infection.
Treatment is essential because without it your risk for pelvic inflammatory disease and susceptibility to STDs significantly increases.
Vaginal infections are typically caused by an imbalanced bacterial microbiome. The microbiome in your gut that supports digestion is more commonly talked about, but a similar bacterial community also lives in your vagina.
Antibiotics, douching, sex, and poor diet can all cause this bacterial community to become unbalanced, which allows an opportunity for harmful bacteria or fungi to take over.
The most predominant bacteria family that lives in your vagina is Lactobacilli, and these helpful strains produce hydrogen peroxide and lactic acid, thereby maintaining a healthy pH level. Any fluctuations to this pH environment can allow other bacterial strains to take over and flourish.
These friendly bacteria also thrive when estrogen levels are high, which is why infections are more common after menstrual cycles, when this hormone is at its lowest production level.
There is an unfortunate cycle that exists when it comes to vaginal infections that can make it difficult to maintain proper vaginal health. Any infections are treated with antibiotics, but these kill the good bacteria along with the bad, and harmful bacteria, especially yeasts, can take over. You may kill off one infection but another will be right behind it to take its place and the cycle continues. The only way to prevent this is to promote an optimal pH environment.
Promoting Optimal Vaginal Health
Because prescription medications and antibiotics can make the situation worse, women often look for more natural vaginal health remedies. There are a few simple ways you can promote vaginal health and prevent the overgrowth of harmful bacteria.
A Balanced Diet
A balanced diet with fresh fruits, vegetables, and reduced amounts of sugar and refined carbohydrates can protect you from harmful bacterial overgrowth. These bacteria thrive in high sugar diets, so the less you provide them with the better.
On the other side, many fruits and vegetables are full of dietary fiber (prebiotics) that good bacteria love, and as the beneficial bacteria in your gut flourish so too will those living around your body.
Adding probiotics is another way to encourage a healthy vaginal pH. A high-quality probiotic supplement that contains the Lactobacilli family will provide reinforcements to those living in your vagina already.
You want to make sure that the supplement also contains a food source for these bacteria, such as cellulose or pectin, so they get the nourishment they need to thrive. The stronger this community is, the less risk you have for a bad bacterial overgrowth and vaginal infection.
Naturally Occurring Probiotic Foods
Eating yogurt is another great way to add probiotics to your diet if supplements are not your thing. Natural. Organic and plain yogurts are the best, especially those that contain the L. acidophilus strain.
| Related: Why Your “Healthy” Yogurt May Be Full of Sugar, Not Probiotics |
It is best to avoid yogurts that contain additives and sugar because those are the ingredients those opportunistic bacteria are waiting for so they can take over.
Sleeping Well and Staying Active
Make sure to provide your immune system with as much support as you can. Any bacterial overgrowth sends alarms to your immune systems and triggers the inflammatory response.
Inflammation is sent to the area to try and kill the harmful bacteria, but it also can damage the sensitive tissues in your vagina, causing more discomfort or infection.
The best ways to support a strong and healthy immune system so it can effectively fight off any infections is through regular exercise, getting enough sleep, and reducing stress as much as possible.
Clean With Care
When it comes to cleaning there are important do’s and don’ts. Do clean with warm soapy water and do not use perfumed cleansing products or douches.
While these may seem like the ideal answer to an odor problem, they only disrupt the pH more and enforce bad bacterial growth.
Certain oils can help prevent and treat vaginal infections. Oil of oregano can be used in aromatherapy (not ingested) to slow the growth of certain bacteria and yeasts that cause infections.
Coconut oil also helps to inhibit harmful bacterial growth and can be directly applied to infected areas.
Tea tree oil has long been used for its antibacterial and antifungal properties, which makes it ideal for treating vaginal infections. This oil is very powerful however, so make sure you mix it with a carrier oil such as coconut oil.
Apple Cider Vinegar
An apple cider vinegar bath can help to naturally clear up infections. You only need to add a half a cup to your bath and soak for about twenty minutes. It provides the same service as douching but without disrupting your vaginal pH.
Adding garlic to your diet is a great way to naturally fight Candida, which is the main cause of yeast infections. Simply adding garlic to your meals will prevent Candida overgrowth in your mouth (which is another common place for yeast infections) and your vagina.
The Bottom Line
Bacteria can be good, and they can be bad. We are surrounded by both, and many even line within us. You cannot avoid them, so you need to work with the friendly ones to promote your health and well-being.
The vaginal environment is very sensitive and requires strict maintenance. By providing probiotic support and making dietary changes, you can promote an optimal vaginal environment and keep opportunistic infections away.