This is the only guide you’ll ever need to combat vaginal yeast infections

Updated on:10 December 2019, 18:29pm IST
Yeast infection strikes almost every woman at least once in her lifetime. Read everything about this fungal infection and how to combat it, here.
Nikita Bhardwaj
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Low immunity can make you prone to vaginal yeast infections. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Is your vagina spitting out white curd-like discharge? If you said yes, then ladies: you better watch out for yeast infections. 

Hey don’t get worked up! Four out of five women get a yeast infection at least once in their lifetimes. Nonetheless, you have to deal with it. So, we got Dr Rajalaxmi Walavalkar a senior gynaecologist and IVF Specialist at Cocoon Fertility in Mumbai to help us decode yeast infections. 

So, let’s get started, shall we? 

What are yeast infections?
A yeast infection is a fungal disease caused by Candida Albicans. Hence, it is also referred to as candidiasis. “Our vagina has its own biome with good bacteria to maintain a balance. So, when you are low on immunity, fungus strikes and outgrows the rest of the organisms, leading to an infection,” explains Dr Walavalkar.

Who let the yeast out?
According to the US Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health: unprotected oral or penetrative intercourse, while you have a yeast infection, could potentially pass the infection on to your partner.

Yes, you read it right! Yeast infection is not just a woman thing–men can get it too.

How can you tell that you’ve got a yeast infection?
Itchiness, mild discomfort, redness, and swelling are some common symptoms of a yeast infection. But, if your infection has advanced, then a burning sensation while urinating and painful sex sessions can also occur. 

Take this quiz: Something smells fishy down there? Find out if everything is okay with your vagina here

Dr Walavalkar explains: Most women also complain of a thick, odourless, curdy white discharge from the vagina.

sexual health
Curd-like discharge can be a sign of vaginal yeast infections. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

But why you? What makes you prone to yeast infections?
It can happen to anyone. But Dr Walavalkar lists causes that put some women more at risk than others: 

Hormonal changes: Menstruation, pregnancy, breastfeeding, menopause, and contraceptive pills–all this can change the cells of the vaginal mucosa, making it more susceptible to microorganism imbalance. This can lead to yeast infection.

Diabetes: Poorly-controlled blood sugar levels tend to be high and fluctuate widely. This increases the sugar levels in the cells of the vaginal membrane. Sugar is a good culture medium and hence supports yeast growth and infection.

Antibiotics: They are known to kill the good bacteria present in your vagina, giving fungus an apt environment to outgrow.

Douches, perfumes, and vaginal sprays: Sometimes these can trigger a mild allergic reaction and the local immunity of the vagina is altered–making it susceptible to candidiasis. So, avoid these.

Unsafe Sex: Yeast infection is not a sexually transmitted disease. Having said that, unprotected sexual intercourse can make your vagina prone to it.

Do you have a yeast infection? Here’s what you can do
First and foremost–visit your doctor, especially if you are pregnant, diabetic, or have a weak immunity.

Dr. Walavalkar suggests using various ointments, creams, and dusting powders that are available in the market.

But if you have fissures or sores, and if self medication has not helped–then rush to the doctor immediately.

Dr Walavalkar suggests that if the infection is mild then sometimes it fades away by itself. But be sure that you take proper measures to avoid recurrence.

Are there any home remedies to combat yeast infections?
Yes, there are! Here’s what Dr Walavalkar suggests:

Tea tree to the rescue
Tea tree oil has antifungal and antibiotic properties. Also, it is used in the form of vaginal pessaries. Women use tampons soaked in diluted tea tree oil for relief. But if you are allergic to tea tree oil, then we’d suggest you drop the idea.

Say yup to yogurt
If you have a yeast infection, you need good bacteria to rescue you. Yogurt does exactly that. It helps the growth of good bacteria because of probiotics and restores the microorganism balance of your vagina.

Coconut caress
Antifungal properties of coconut oil can also rescue you. You can apply coconut oil directly or soak a tampon and insert it for an overnight therapy. 

vaginal dryness
Yes coconut oil can help, but consult your doctor first. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Word of caution: Avoid these home remedies if you’re pregnant, have a weak immune system, or have an STI. Also, consult with you gynaecologist before trying them. 

Now that you know everything about this yeasty evil, share the info with your friends and save yourself from this infection. 

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Nikita Bhardwaj Nikita Bhardwaj

Six-pack abs are all that Nikita needs, along with her daily dose of green tea. At Health Shots, she produces videos, podcasts, stories, and other kick-ass content.