If you follow our blog, then you’ve probably gathered that I, Courtney, have had some issues with persistent yeast infections over the past year.
It all started after my 2017 annual exam.
GYNO: “Oh, you seem to have a mild bacterial infection. It might go away on its own, but here are some antibiotics just in case.”
ME: “OK, I’ll dutifully take these antibiotics just to be safe!”
A week later I had a raging yeast infection. What the doctor had failed to tell me was that the antibiotics would kill all of my bacteria, good and bad. With a vulnerable vulva, the fungus, candida albicans, had the perfect opportunity to launch its invasion.
With no time or funds to reschedule a follow-up appointment, I resorted to the internet, desperate for an alternative.
If you’ve ever Googled “home remedies for vaginal infections,” you’ll find horrifying suggestions — like put a yogurt-soaked tampon up your vagina overnight — but no way of knowing which ones actually work.
Over the span of a year, I tried 9 methods to get rid of my recurrent infections. Just like goldilocks (if goldilocks was looking for yeast remedies), I found some were too gentle and did nothing, some gave me a horrible fiery rash, and only one was just right.
1. “I’ll just wait it out.”
Eventually my vagina’s biome will balance itself out and everything will go back to normal.
Things got much worse before they got better. And just when I thought the coast was clear, my infection would come back a few days later. Not to mention, waiting it out also meant I was transferring my infection to my partner (PSA: penises can get yeast infections too!).
2. Something About Cranberries?
Actually I think the person who told me about this had it confused with UTI’s (also questionable).
I saw absolutely no difference. Nonetheless, I suppose I was getting enough of my daily dose of vitamin C for a week.
Garlic contains a compound, allicin, that is anti-fungal. Theoretically if you use an anti-fungal, it should kill the fungus causing the yeast infection.
The #Real Science
Putting any foreign object in your vagina is risky. While it might not be harmful, you never know how your vag my react. You could be fine, or you could experience burning, itching and irritation that will only make the yeast infection worse.
Not to mention, there are no concrete studies examining the concentration, application technique and length of time needed to see a result.
4. Probiotic Pills
Probiotic pills are supposed to promote the growth of good bacteria in your vagina. With more good bacteria, your body is better equipped to fight off the yeast.
Many probiotics in the U.S. are classified as a dietary supplement, which means they are not regulated by the FDA. You might not even be getting a strain that promotes growth of good vaginal bacteria, and there is no evidence that probiotics help ward off yeast.
Same as the probiotic pills.
Nothing changed, but I really like yogurt, so I guess no harm no foul?
6. Apple Cider Vinegar Baths
Vinegar is acidic, so it will make your vagina acidic, creating an inhospitable environment for the yeast.
All this did was make my entire bathroom smell like vinegar. The concentration in the bath was not high enough to alter my pH level. While I did feel relief after the bath, this outcome was most likely due to the warm water and not the acidity level.
7. Vaginal Wipes
If these wipes can make your vagina the correct pH, it should promote the growth of good bacteria, which will take action and kill the yeast.
I think these actively made my infection worse. Some of the wipes (even the organic “all natural” ones) contained alcohol, fragrances and glycerins, ingredients that can irritate and disrupt a vagina’s pH. Moral of the story: don’t experiment with freshly scented wipes when your vagina is already compromised.
8. Over the Counter Medications
There are a variety of OTC medications; most of them contain varying concentrations of antifungal medications that stop the growth of yeast causing the infection.
You can find them at your local pharmacy, CVS, Rite Aid, Duane Reade, etc. etc., usually located by the pregnancy tests and feminine hygiene products.
I selected the one-day Monistat ovule, because who doesn’t want to get rid of their yeast infection as soon as possible?
9. The One Dose Pill
Healthcare providers can prescribe you an oral, one-dose antifungal pill, fluconazole.
It was the most difficult to access, because I needed a prescription, but was by far the easiest and most effective. Within the span of four days, all of my symptoms disappeared, and I had no reinfection after treatment.
How To Get It
If you’re already being treated for BV or another vaginal infection that requires antibiotics, ask your doctor if they can also prescribe you fluconazole just in case the antibiotics trigger a yeast infection.
If you’re not sure if it’s yeast, schedule an appointment with your healthcare provider so they can confirm with a vaginal culture. Your local Planned Parenthood can test for BV (bacterial infection), STI’s and yeast to make sure you’re getting the appropriate treatment.
In my case, I ended up going to my PCP, and she was able to provide me with multiple prescriptions so I wouldn’t have to go back in if the yeast returned.
Moral of the Story
I’m all for natural and herbal remedies, but when it comes to yeast, the only thing that worked for me was medication.
If you want to remain all natural, ask you doctor about boric acid. If taken orally, boric acid can be toxic, but a healthcare provider can prescribe you a low-dose vaginal suppository. It is the only natural remedy that has some validity attached to it.
A home remedy might seem like a magic fix, but be careful with what you read on the internet. From experience, a lot of these solutions can actually made the situation worse.
Be nice to your vagina; it’s doing its best.
Bio: Courtney Snavely is the co-founder of Ovee, an inclusive sexual and reproductive health platform for people with vaginas. Check it out for everything related to pelvic health and wellness, from treating chronic yeast infections, testing positive for HPV, and extremely in depth product reviews.
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