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Millions of women suffer vaginal yeast infections every year — including painful infections that re-emerge just when you think they’re gone for good. In fact, according to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, estimates show that around 75 percent of all women will have a vaginal yeast infection at some point in their lives!

What causes a vaginal yeast infection? You guessed it: yeast! But did you know that the same type of fungal yeast that grows outdoors on trees and plants is actually very similar to the type that can develop inside the body and lead to an infection? It’s true! The good news is there are several natural steps you can take to get rid of a vaginal yeast infection for good. Vaginal yeast infections can be treated naturally at home with supplements, essential oils, a nutrient-rich diet and probiotics. Take a look at six home remedies I recommend the most to prevent and/or treat this issue that too many women just can’t seem to shake.

Symptoms

Yeast infections of all kinds tend to develop in areas of the body where conditions are most favorable for yeast and mold to reproduce easily. Yeast and fungus thrive in moist conditions, so damp “folds” of the body (think areas where you sweat a lot) are usually more prone to infections and outbreaks, including:

  • the mouth and throat
  • genitals
  • armpits
  • anal area
  • navel (belly button)
  • nasal cavity and around the nose
  • within the ears
  • fingernails and toenails
  • in between fingers and toes
  • digestive tract

When yeast becomes overgrown in the vagina, symptoms of a vaginal yeast infection can develop, including:

  • vaginal itching (sometimes very uncomfortable and severe)
  • vaginal discharge, usually white, thick, clumpy and odorless (while not pleasant to visualize, some people describe it as looking like cottage or ricotta cheese)
  • irritated skin around the opening to the vagina (vulva and labia), redness and swelling
  • slight bleeding
  • pain when going to the bathroom, during intercourse, when urinating or during menstruation
  • sometimes a slight smell that’s unusual

Treatment

  • Keep skin clean. Yeast can only multiple to harmful levels when the conditions are just right. The best way to stop yeast from spreading is to keep your skin clean, dry, and free from scrapes or wounds. Practicing good hygiene and taking care of any open cuts properly helps prevent infections, whether in the vagina, digestive tract, mouth or elsewhere. Following sexual intercourse, make sure to wash the genital area. It’s possible to spread yeast infections during sex from person to person, and even though women are much more likely to carry yeast infections, men (especially men who are uncircumcised) can develop yeast infections in the genital area, too.
  • Wear clean clothing. Make sure to wear clean underwear, and ideally make your underwear cotton or another breathable fabric. Allowing air to reach your genitals helps stop moisture and warmth from developing, which worsens yeast growth.
  • Nutrient-rich foods & probiotics.A diet that boosts your immune system can help your body stay in tip-top shape, greatly reducing the risk of an infection since an increase in protective white blood cells is able to target the problem before it worsens. This is the reason why a weakened immune system is one of the significant risk factors for recurring yeast infections. People with viruses like HIV or autoimmune disorders, diabetes, or cancer are all prone to developing infections more often. Support your immune system by eating a nutrient-dense diet, especially one high in vegetables, healthy fats (including antimicrobial coconut oil), probiotics and quality sources of protein. Probiotic foods (including kinds that contain bacteria such aslactobacillus or acidophilus) are beneficial for fighting infections of all kinds and proven to be beneficial for yeast infections.
  • Rule out allergies. Sometimes allergies to condoms/latex, soaps or other hygeine products such as bath oils, tampons, spermicidal jelly or douches can cause allergies and infections. Chemical products are irritating to the sensitive genital area and can negatively impact the balance of bacteria in your vagina. If you’ve recently started using new products and notice infections taking place, try switching up your products, and use something more natural instead (like coconut oil as a natural lubricant, for example).