So this is my first official post here at Crunchy on the Inside. I thought long and hard about what my very first post would be. It had to be important. It had to be crunchy. It had to be helpful. And then it came to me, like an itching, burning lightbulb moment. Yeast infections, the vaginal kind! Why vaginal yeast infections? They’re common, annoying, and easy to get rid of without sticking broad spectrum antifungals all over your crotch. I’m not a doctor, so of course these are just my opinions, but they work for me and many others.
What is a vaginal yeast infection?
The name says it all. A vaginal yeast infection is an overgrowth of yeast (usually Candida) in your vagina. Lady Parts have a microbiome, just like your gut—and skin, and mouth. Normally, this microbiome has yeast living in it in small numbers, some of them are even good for you. However, other yeast are just lurking in there, waiting for their chance to strike. A yeast infection happens when these bad yeast grow out of control and take over. When the good bacteria can’t keep them under control they switch from lurking to actually hurting you. And by “hurting”, I mean “setting your vagina on fire”.
The symptoms of a yeast infection:
Discomfort during sex
A burning sensation
Cottage cheese-like discharge
What your doctor will tell you to do (and what they don’t know/won’t tell you):
“Go get an over-the-counter (OTC) medication like Monistat or Vagisil.” If you’re really suffering, or you beg hard enough, they might even prescribe a really strong antifungal. Here’s the problem with that, though. Those antifungals don’t pick and choose who to kill. They wipe out all the fungi, even the good or neutral ones. As the research piles up of how important our microbiomes (gut, skin, mouth, vagina) are I get even more uncomfortable with using such drastic measures. Look at the problems we’ve created in our hand sanitizer/antibacterial soap/antibiotic-fueled attack on bacteria. Higher allergy rates, skin issues (rash, eczema, acne), antibiotic resistant bacteria, and who knows how many others. Better to treat this the less-expensive, easier, safer, more convenient way right? That’s the crunchy way!
Natural ways to get rid of a yeast infection:
Yogurt My personal favorite! It’s always in the house, the coolness soothes the burning, and it doesn’t draw judge-y looks at the grocery checkout. Make sure the yogurt is PLAIN (no flavor and unsweetened) and has the good bacteria in it. It should say “live and active cultures” somewhere on the container. Those live and active cultures are a probiotic. I use an old medicine syringe from Little Man’s Motrin or cough syrup. I know it seems a little weird, but it works really well! Squirt a little just inside and spread it around with the syringe anywhere you see/feel the itching and redness. I use it 2 times a day for a couple days. If your symptoms do not improve, try adding this next one in with the yogurt.
Garlic I have never had to try this method before because the yogurt always cleared mine up right away, but a lot of women swear by it. Garlic is a powerful natural antifungal, but isn’t as harsh as the store-bought stuff. If you just take a whole clove of garlic, remove the dry husk, and put it in your vagina it helps get rid of yeast infection very quickly. You can wrap it in cheesecloth and tie it with floss into a sort of tampon, or you can just stick it up there and get it out by squatting down and pushing like you’re pooping (or are actually pooping). Like I said above, these first two can be combined for dual yeast-killing power, but for most cases it will be overkill.
Tea tree oil Tea tree oil is really great and I use it for a lot of stuff. I have not used it for this, though. I like it for cleaning, disinfecting, and covering up nasty smells. I even use it on my face for acne. It burns pretty badly on the face if not diluted (dilute in olive oil/warm coconut oil), so I can’t even imagine how it would feel on a sore vagina. Definitely dilute it a lot and work your way up to higher concentrations if you choose to try this one.
Probiotics, the most important of all
I didn’t get my first yeast infection until I was 26, but boy did it make up for lost time! I was getting one or two a month for a stretch of several months. Even though I had all of the above natural remedies that could clear it up in a day or two, the infection kept coming back, which was incredibly annoying. I did some digging and found that good bacteria in your vagina are just as important as in your gut. And guess what, probiotics help them both at the same time. About a week after I started taking a probiotic though, I started to feel that infuriating burning. I was more than a little ticked off that the probiotic had seemingly done NOTHING and broke out my go-to remedy. I was almost ready to give up hope on the probiotic helping with yeast infections, when I came across a little bit of research. As it turns out, in some people, when you probiotic-up and the good bacteria go off to war, the battle between yeast and bacteria can get pretty intense. Not only that, but the yeast don’t die quietly. In some cases the die-off of yeast can cause symptoms similar to the infection itself as the body clears out the remains of the yeast. Since I have not had a yeast infection for many months now, I think it’s safe to say the probiotic is helping whether that last flare up was die-off or not.
If you found this helpful, please like and share!
P.S. Here is a link to Kevin’s Probiotic Post. He doesn’t discuss the vagina specifically, but he covers probiotics more deeply and with links to science articles if you enjoy that sort of thing. This is what Kevin and I take. It has a great group of probiotics and grape seed extract as an antifungal to kill off Candida yeast!