What is a Yeast Infection?
Candidiasis is the most common type of yeast infection and is caused by a type of fungus called Candida. This organism commonly penetrates and affects areas of the body such as the mouth, around dentures, under the breasts, the vagina, groin area, nail beds, and beneath other skin folds.
Yeast infections are more common in cases of poor hygiene, weakened immune systems, following antibiotic and steroid use, as well as hormonal changes during pregnancy, menstruation, and menopause.
Women are more prone to yeast infections, and three out of four women are affected during their lifetime by vaginal yeast infections. Men also may also develop a yeast infection, but it is less common. It is not primarily a sexually transmitted condition, but the infection can be transmitted between partners.
Yeast infection symptoms that recur relentlessly should receive medical attention, while others may be treated with over-the-counter drugs. A wide range of treatment options which include conventional and homeopathic therapies can alleviate symptoms and ensure less pain, discomfort, and embarrassment.
There are also many natural cures for yeast infections that do not have the negative sides effects commonly associated with conventional medicine.
How is a Yeast Infection Diagnosed?
The diagnosis of a vaginal yeast infection will usually be determined by the following:
- A vaginal examination
- Samples of discharge will be examined under microscope
For chronic infections, the discharge may be cultured to determine what else may be present. A more serious condition such as chlamydia or gonorrhea can easily be mistaken for a yeast infection, so it is best to have yeast infection symptoms checked out by a medical practitioner, especially if the infection does not respond well to treatment.
What are the Symptoms of a Yeast Infection?
The symptoms and signs of a yeast infection include:
- Thick, white vaginal discharge (looks like cottage cheese) that is odorless
- Vaginal itching
- Irritated genital skin
- Burning and pain during urination or sexual intercourse
Yeast infections can become widespread throughout the body (known as systemic candidiasis), and can then result in a variety of generalized symptoms, including fatigue, headaches, depression, aches and pains, digestive disturbances, and increased vulnerability to opportunistic infections.
What are the Causes of Yeast Infections?
A yeast infection is caused by the overgrowth of a fungus known as Candida albicans. Candida albicans is normally found in all people, but the levels are usually kept in check by the body.
There are many things that can create an imbalance leading to Candida overgrowth and infection.
Factors Contributing to Candida Overgrowth
- Use of antibiotics
- Use of steroids
- Hormonal changes during pregnancy, menstruation, and menopause
- People with weakened immune systems because of cancer, steroid treatment, or conditions such as AIDS
- Use of contraceptives such as birth control pills
- Poor hygiene methods, such as not washing the vaginal area, or not wiping from front to back after using the toilet
- Wearing tight trousers or jeans
- Exposing the vaginal area to moisture such as a wet bathing suit
Help for Yeast Infections
Vaginal yeast infections may cause intermittent or recurring infections. If not treated immediately, yeast infections can become a serious condition. However, with the correct approach, yeast infection symptoms will respond well to treatment.
Conventional Treatment Options
- Over-the-counter medication such as creams and suppositories
- Prescription creams and suppositories
- Prescription oral medications
These conventional treatment options will only work successfully if preventative mechanisms are put into place such as eating a well-balanced diet, practicing good hygiene and safe sex, and cleansing the body’s system (see some useful tips on holistic treatment and prevention below).
Natural Cures for Yeast Infections
There are effective natural cures for yeast infections available that can help to soothe the discomfort and frustration of a yeast infection, resolving the infection without the use of prescriptions and OTC drugs. These remedies are 100% safe, non-addictive, and non-invasive. They contain ingredients such as Cymbopogon citratus (Lemon grass), Calendula officinalis, and Tabebuia impetiginosa (Pau d'arco bark). All have antibacterial and antifungal properties that effectively remove toxins and help to support the overall natural maintenance systems in the body. Consult a homeopath, herbalist, or naturopath for advice on the remedy that suits your symptoms.