Vaginal Thrush – How To Get Rid of Vaginal Thrush
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Vaginal Thrush – How To Get Rid of Vaginal Thrush
Vaginal thrush is one of those unpleasant things about being a woman. Unless you’re fortunate enough to have a mild case, vaginal thrush can cause great discomfort including itching and swelling of your most delicate parts. Fortunately there are plenty of ways you can help to fight thrush and prevent it from happening in future.
What Is Vaginal Thrush?
Candida albicans is a microscopic fungus which is responsible for thrush. While this organism ordinarily lives in the intestinal tract, nearly one out of three women have candida albicans present in their vagina. It only becomes a problem when its numbers outgrow the good bacteria – it’s a battle of the good bacteria with the bad bacteria and the side with the most ‘soldiers’ wins. The good news is, there is something you can do to prevent and quickly treat thrush.
Vaginal Thrush During Pregnancy
When you’re pregnant, you’re more likely to get thrush. This is because during pregnancy, the vagina becomes rich in a form of glucose named ‘glycogen’, which feeds the growth of candida albicans. It’s believed the higher levels of glycogen occurs due to increased oestrogen levels and reduced acidity in the vagina. This is why a pregnant woman is ten times more likely to get thrush than normal – instead of being a nice cosy home for thrush, the vagina is now a five star hotel!
Other things which can kill good probiotic bacteria and potentially lead to thrush include:
- Birth control pills
- Steroidal/hormonal drugs
- Additives in drinking water like chlorine and sodium fluoride
- Caffeine – i.e. coffee/tea/carbonated drinks
- Synthetic vitamins
What Are The Symptoms of Thrush?
Increased cervical fluid production is common during pregnancy, you may notice thin, milky discharge which is a result of your body’s hormones doing their job. But pregnant or not, if you notice that your vaginal discharge becomes thick, white and creamy (like cottage cheese) and if you have itching in your vaginal area, you may have thrush. Some women notice a stinging or burning sensation on the labia during urination and others feel the same unpleasant sensations during sexual intercourse. For some women the only sign is the anal or perineal burning when urinating or showering.
Especially if you are pregnant or trying to conceive, it is important to have symptoms like this checked out to ensure nothing else is going on and there are no other underlying infections.
Diet Tips For Vaginal Thrush
Diet plays a huge role in yeast infections, no matter if you’re pregnant, breastfeeding or otherwise. Some foods can encourage the growth of yeast and some can help prevent it. No matter what treatment you decide to take, you MUST improve your diet and probiotic intake, as this is highly likely why you got thrush in the first place.
You could go eliminate lots of foods to try and beat thrush, but here are the big bad nasties as far as thrush goes:
- Sugar. Thrush (as well as many other health problems) LOVES sugar, so it is a big problem if you have or want to avoid thrush. Do not replace sugar with artificial sweeteners – they are actually very unhealthy and may result in you craving more sugar. Sadly, honey is on the no list too if you’re trying to beat thrush. Get rid of as much sugar as you can, no soft drinks (or other sugary drinks), cordials, packaged juices, chocolate, sweets etc.
- Yeasts and white flour products – this means processed wheat/grain products. Avoid bread, cake, biscuits and other white flour products.
- Processed foods – from processed meats to dairy products, you need to boost your immune system, and processed foods harm much more than help, thrush or not. If you can’t hunt it, pick it or grow it, avoid eating it!
- Caffeine – cut back or eliminate where you can. There are some great herbal teas you can have in exchange.
- Alcohol – while I am sure you aren’t having any or very little, its no good while you have thrush due to the sugars it contains. Alcohol is a toxin.
INCREASE / ADD TO YOUR DIET
Especially as a breastfeeding mother, plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables are important as well as protein and good oils. The following suggestions are antifungal products and/or will positively boost your immune system. In a weakened immune system, or if you’re run down or not eating well, thrush and other diseases start to run rampant. Just like when you forget to change the water in a fish tank, after a while it starts to get icky and polluted, then the fish start to get sick and so on. If you change what you’re putting in your body, you’ll feel much better.
- Coconut oil – this is a very powerful anti-fungal (as well as other things) and is a perfect alternative to other cooking oils, even as a partial or full butter replacement in recipes. Make sure its organic, cold pressed virgin coconut oil. Two or three tablespoons a day is ideal.
- Garlic – fresh or raw is best. When crushed/chopped, you notice the trademark smell associated with garlic. A reaction occurs and this gives the garlic the potent antibiotic and antifungal properties. Avoid overcooking garlic or using after its been left out too long as it will reduce the benefits. Studies have shown garlic to be just as good and even better than some pharmaceutical medications for infections.
- Natural yoghurt for its probiotic content.
- Cinnamon. This yummy food additive has shown to have antifungal properties in some studies. More research is needed but so far it looks promising – and who doesn’t love cinnamon?!
- Leafy greens are important for good health, be sure to include plenty in your diet not matter if you have an imbalance or not – it will help keep your health in check.
- Juicing – fresh vegetable and fruit juices are great for your immune system and health. Prepackaged juices are usually loaded with sugar.
- Water intake. Check your water intake and drink good quality, filtered water, as additives in tap water these days aren’t probiotic friendly. I recommend Bluezone water systems which even impressed my local water company when they tested our water – they couldn’t find a trace of chlorine.
- Naturally fermented vegetables which contain probiotics.
- Kefir which contains probiotics.
How Can I Prevent Thrush?
Changing your diet to include and avoid the above will go a long way. Probiotics are important to include in your daily routine as so many factors around us constantly threaten good probiotic bacteria in our body.
“I took 2 × 25 ml (of Fast Tract) per day for the first three or four days, but now I have cut down to 1 × 25ml per day. I can even eat sweets again with absolutely no problems! I can’t tell you how over the moon I am….no more creams, diets, drops, vinegar, or painful sex! I intend to keep taking it until I have the baby at least.” — happymum2
There are many pro-biotic preparations on the market, usually in powder form found at your health food store or at the chemist. They store the probiotic ‘acidophilus’ in the fridge being a live bacteria – you will likely need to ask for it as it won’t be on the shelf. However the best pro-biotic product to take is Fast-Tract which you can read about HERE – it contains not only one or two strains of pro-biotics but thirteen different ones – a much better product by far! Fast-Tract is not fast-tracked in faecal matter like some other commercially made pro-biotic products. The bacteria are produced from fruit and vegetables and they have been able to acheive a massive 265 million CFU’s (colony forming units) per ml of liquid – and it doesn’t taste that bad at all! The level of colony forming units is significant because higher bacteria counts improve the ability of the colonies to establish themselves faster.
You only need to drink a small amount per day and it not only gives you the added benefits of helping with thrush, but many other health issues too. Many women I personally know who have taken Fast Tract (or a related product called In-Liven which also contains other nutrients, but not so abundant in pro-biotics) have found their thrush to disappear after many months of nothing else working for them.
It makes good sense to load up your body with good bacteria to win the ‘battle of the bacteria.’ If you can keep taking the Fast Tract or In-Liven on a regular basis to prevent it, rather than use creams as a bandaid fix, you’ll likely get a much better result. Prevention is always better than cure!
You can also cut back on the things listed above which kill pro-biotics.
“I too upped my daily Fast-Tract to 2 × 25 ml for a few days and I am now pain free!!! Yay! I even have indulged in a couple of sweet treats without having to pay for it later with pain! (Which is probably a mixed blessing as now I’m less motivated to keep my sweet-tooth in check!). Yay for Fast Tract! And Yay for BellyBelly for telling me about it!” — NelleBelle
Is There Anything Else I Can Do To Treat It?
If you speak to your doctor, you may be prescribed a medication in the form of pessaries or creams. If you are pregnant, there are a couple which are safe to use during pregnancy – oral forms of medications are generally not recommended. Don’t buy any other medications unless you have spoken to your doctor first as some are not safe to use.
Many caregivers won’t worry about a diagnosis of thrush and are often dismissive, even with heavy growth of candida because it’s considered harmless – but it’s very uncomfortable if you are the person who has it. So you will need to be quite insistent if you want treatment prescribed.
Just because one type/brand of treatment doesn’t work e.g. Canasten, it doesn’t mean another like Nilstat won’t work. Try them all if one doesn’t work because they have slightly different constituents. However, if successful it may treat thrush this time, but it could just be a bandaid fix. If you don’t sort out the root cause of the imbalance of bacteria, then it can just keep re-ocurring, which is what many women find. A preventative like Fast Tract really is the best way to go.
If you are in your first trimester, your carer will be least likely to want to prescribe you something for thrush.
Here are some suggestions below if you cannot take any medication:
- Watch your diet as per above.
- Get onto Fast-Tract as soon as you can – this will help the actual, root problem of a bacterial imbalance and will get to work right away. The good bacteria will begin to grow and out-number the bad bacteria and will not only help with vaginal thrush but so many other things too. You can up the dose at times of infection, probiotics (especially these organically grown ones!) are safe to take. Its also a great preventative to keep thrush away.
- Natural live yogurt contains a probiotic called acidophilus. However, the level of probiotics in yoghurt can be quite low, so it can take a little more time to help, which can be frustrating especially if itching is a problem. You can eat the yoghurt as much as you like, some women swear by inserting some plain natural yoghurt into their vagina. You can soak a tampon in natural yoghurt, (differentiate just unsweetened from true natural yoghurt) and insert into the vagina for 2 hours, then change for new one.
- Garlic internally. This is one of the most effective, quick ways to rid thrush for many women. Read a full article here: How To Treat a Vaginal Infection With a Clove of Garlic.
- Avoid personal lubricants that contain glycerine. Look for water based lubricants.
- Avoid underwear that is tight or contains materials like lycra and other fabric which reduces air circulation – cotton is best. Avoid underwear wherever possible – not a good idea though if you are going to work and wearing a skirt! Around the home and overnight is a good start.
- Avoid tight jeans or trousers where possible – opt for skirts if you can.
- Candida albicans thrive in moist, warm environments so try to avoid long, hot baths.
- Don’t use soaps or douches to wash your vagina, they can upset the balance of good bacteria.
- Try avoiding yeast – lot of women swear that yeast in their diet increases the growth of candida. It’s often present in iron tonic supplements so check list of ingredients when taking these.
- See a naturopath to help get your gut back into balance.
Will Thrush Hurt My Baby?
Not at all. If you have thrush when you go into labour, there is a small chance that your baby will catch it as he or she comes through the vagina. If a baby has thrush this is often seen as white patches in the baby’s mouth, but it isn’t serious and is easily treated.
What If My Baby Has Thrush?
If your baby does get thrush in the mouth, this may be passed back to you through breastfeeding and you can keep re-infecting each other, so it’s important that you treat the both of you at the same time. Fast Tract is safe for babies, you can give them 1ml.
If your baby has passed thrush onto you, you may experience sore, tender nipples and a ‘shooting’ pain while breastfeeding you baby. The shooting pains may also occur after feeding, and seem to radiate from the nipple right through to the back of the breast. It’s pain which can make the eyes water and it can create so much tension in mum prior to feeding that it makes for an unpleasant experience and you may have feelings of wanting to give up breastfeeding. So before you do this, make sure you seek the services of a qualified Lactation Consultant (ideally an IBCLC – International Board Certified Lactation Consultant), who can come to your home and help identify any problems and/or diagnose any possible thrush, getting you on the road to more pleasant feeding!
You can locate Lactation Consultants through the following organisations:
Some Great Information Worth Watching
Below is a presentation by Dr. Gregor Reid, Ph.D., MBA, who is a renowned probiotic researcher and the world’s leading expert in using clinically-documented probiotics to address women’s health concerns.
This presentation is brilliant – it’s easy to follow and detailed, so you will understand pro-biotics much better, especially with regards to women’s health (including thrush and bacterial vaginosis). I very much enjoyed watching this and learning so much about this common problem, which is on the rise with current lifestyle habits. It’s broken up into several short chapters – enjoy!
© Copyright 2006 by Kelly Winder, All Rights Reserved. Article may not be copied in part or full without written permission.
Kelly Winder is a birth attendant (aka doula), the creator of BellyBelly and mum to three beautiful children. Follow Kelly on Google+ and become a fan of BellyBelly on Facebook. BellyBelly is also on Twitter. Please note that all of my suggestions and advice are of a generalised nature only and are not intended to replace advice from a qualified professional. BellyBelly.com.au – The Thinking Woman’s Website For Conception, Pregnancy, Birth and Baby.
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