How to Naturally Break the Cycle of UTIs, Yeast Infections, and More
7 minute read
Bacteria can either be your worst enemy or your best friend. The bacteria that live in your gut help support optimal digestion along with immunity and good mental health. There is also a bacterial community living in your vagina that can either protect you or cause infections.
Fortunately, in the same way that probiotics can help support your gut bacteria, they can also support your vaginal microbiome too. Here’s why they can help prevent UTIs, yeast infections, and more.
Behind the Infections
Some bacteria are beneficial, such as the Lactobacillus strains that colonize the vagina. They like the sugar that is naturally present in this area of the body and can thrive.
As they digest this sugar, they produce lactic acid, which keeps your vagina at a healthy pH level. Anything too high or too low results in harmful bacteria showing up and this is when infections can occur.
Yeast infections are caused by an overgrowth of bacteria known as Candida. This yeast is opportunistic and takes advantage of you when you are vulnerable. Candida overgrowth can occur in your mouth when you are fighting a common cold, and it can cause yeast infections when vaginal bacteria is out of balance.
While the infections are not life-threatening, the symptoms are unpleasant. They are also easy to treat so long as you have the right information, just like PMS and PMDD.
Bacterial vaginosis is another common vaginal infection caused by bacterial imbalance. Stress and poor diet as well as a course of antibiotics (for another infection) can cause the imbalance that leads to BV.
The good bacteria living in your vagina are essential to your health because they serve to protect you. Like a yeast infection, the symptoms of BV are unpleasant but easily treated once you understand that you can restore bacterial balance.
The Never-Ending Cycle
The bacterial balance in your vagina is very delicate. The slightest change in pH can change the composition of bacteria. If bad bacteria become overgrown and take over the area, your risk for infection increases.
There are a number of factors in your daily life that contribute to this possible disruption. Sex, douching, cleansing wipes, and menstruation can all change the vaginal environment and impact microbiome health.
The problem with getting an infection is that it starts a negative cycle. UTI, yeast infections, and bacterial vaginosis trigger inflammation which further disrupts your vaginal health.
With fewer good bacteria on hand to protect you, inflammation causes bacterial overgrowth and infection. Once an infection is present, it can be difficult to fight with depleted armies and other opportunistic infections can crop up.
Specifically, there is a cycle that develops between yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis that can be difficult to get ahead of.
♦ When bacterial vaginosis is detected, antibiotics are usually prescribed to kill the harmful bacteria that have become overgrown.
♦ The antibiotics kill both the bad bacteria and the good ones that are there to protect you from infection.
♦ Yeast infections are opportunistic and take advantage of this limited protection.
♦ Typical treatments for yeast infections disrupt the pH balance in your vagina, and bacterial vaginosis can again take over.
♦ The only way to correct the situation is to restore balance to your vaginal microbiome.
Most of the friendly bacteria you are likely familiar with live in your gut. These microorganisms function in the same way that those in your vagina do. In the same way that you can boost good bacteria and overall gut health with probiotics, you can do the same with vaginal bacteria too.
Breaking the Bacterial Cycle
Without using antibiotics in the first place, you can take probiotics to restore balance to the vagina, and the good conquer the bad on their own. Without antibiotics to kill off good bacteria, you will not be vulnerable to yeast or other vaginal infections.
Probiotics are a great way to restore balance to your vagina. In the same way as they boost gut health, probiotics replace any beneficial bacteria that have been killed off.
This helps bring balance back to the area and bad bacteria are put back in check. Studies have found that cases of bacterial vaginosis have been found alongside poor gut health, showing that bacterial balance is essential to your health.
In addition to probiotics, there are a few homemade and natural remedies you can try to keep your vaginal microbiome in balance.
1. Garlic: Outside of giving your food wonderful flavor, garlic also has powerful antibacterial properties. This makes it a natural source for treating bacterial overgrowth, which can allow time for your good bacteria to take back control.
2. Tea tree oil: This oil has both antibacterial and antifungal properties, which make it ideal to treat vaginal infections naturally. It is important to mix tea tree oil with a carrier oil first, such as coconut, olive oil, or sweet almond, because tea tree oil can burn delicate skin.
3. Boric acid: This may sound unpleasant but boric acid has been proven to treat BV and other vaginal infections efficiently. While it is toxic and should not be ingested, it is perfectly safe for your vagina and can clear up infection within two weeks.
4. Don’t douche: Douching is the go-to resource for cleaning the vagina, but is actually the worst thing you can do for BV or a yeast infection.
| Related: How to Fight Candida Infections Naturally |
This cleaner, along with other perfumed cleansers, disrupts the natural pH balance in your vagina which promotes the growth of bad bacteria. You may feel cleaner when you are done, but the BV will still be there and you may even give bad bacteria more power.
5. Breathable underwear: Cotton underwear is more breathable than others, like spandex, and can help prevent vaginal infections. Underwear made from materials like spandex can trap moisture, which allows bad bacteria to breed and multiply.
The Bottom Line
Yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis are unfortunate infections that affect millions every year. The good news is that they can be easily controlled and treated by restoring balance to your vaginal microbiome.
Because one infection can lead to another you can find yourself trapped in a vicious cycle of UTIs before you know it. Go right to the source and keep your bacteria happy, because their balance is the key to your health.