Let’s be real here, there’s no cute way to tell you that I had recurring yeast infections for years, so I’m just going to cut to the chase. And not to make this part too detailed or anything, but at one point I literally had one after the other for about 5 months straight, so I know how bad that shit can get.
Other than that, I got them a couple of times per year. Every 3 months or so. Which, if you’ve ever had a yeast infection, you know it is the most uncomfortable thing in the entire world. It basically feels like your vaginal wall is lined with velcro. Or something like that. And that’s a ridiculous amount of infections to have, and completely not normal.
For dudes, it is a bit different, but also very uncomfortable.
So I’ve taken it upon myself to tell you everything I’ve tried. It is my civic duty as a woman. I’ll tell you what worked and what didn’t, and what keeps yeast infections MIA.
Candida occurs naturally and is a type of fungus that lives in healthy amounts on the skin, in the mouth, in the GI tract, and the genitals. It lives in a healthy balance with all of the bacteria in your body, unless something causes it to multiply and grow. The overgrowth is called cadidiasis and can be caused by various different things like taking antibiotics, birth control, or a suppressed immune system.
According to Holtorf Medical Group, here is a list of candida overgrowth symptoms:
Healthline reports the following as common symptoms of a vaginal yeast infection:
I’ll also throw in there that abnormal discharge is what to look for. You may have discharge all the time and it is very natural, so if you’re reading this and you have discharge don’t be alarmed! Be alarmed if it randomly switches up on you.
Some other signs I’ll include:
STEP 1: Find an OBGYN that you like!!! It is so important to feel comfortable spreading your legs and letting someone up in your stuff (THIS APPLIES TO MORE THAN JUST YOUR OBGYN LADIES!!!!).
STEP 2: Communicate!!!! Tell them your concerns.
STEP 3: Tell them what YOU want. Go in educated and let them know that they’ll have to drag you out kicking and screaming unless you get proper testing with a confirmed diagnosis for what you’re feeling. You have EVERY. RIGHT. to communicate your needs to your doctor and to let them know that you need help finding a solution to what you’re feeling.
STEP 4: Get swabbed! They’ll send the swab off to a lab, it’ll get cultured, and in a few days you’ll have your answer!
*Please keep in mind that I am sharing my experience, as guided by my OBGYN as well as my primary care doctor. You should speak with your doc or a qualified healthcare professional before trying any new supplements or making dietary and/ or lifestyle changes. A lot of the things I tried are herbal and/ or require vaginal insertion – it is especially important to check with your doc before trying these if you’re on any medications or are pregnant/ breastfeeding.
What: The Candida Diet is an elimination diet that focuses on gut health and reducing sugar. Eliminating sugar is important because Candida thrives on sugar. The diet has to be in congruence with supplements and taking care of your gut through diet and lifestyle equally, so that candida levels can be restored to healthy levels.
My Experience: I was already gluten free, mostly sugar free, and didn’t eat junk food. The food portion was really frustrating for me because I didn’t feel like it was making a huge difference. What did help was the focus on gut health and allowing my gut time to heal. Time is key. This isn’t a quick fix, it is a healing process.
Finally, I think the lifestyle portion not addressed in the diet – like stress management, sleep, and exercise were key to my healing.
What: A strong, healthy gut contributes to the health of your heart, brain, digestion, can prevent autoimmune disease and can manage your hormones, as well as your stress, sleep, body composition, and more. The gut is considered the body’s second brain because there are 500 million neurons living in your gut. Your gut is like the control center for the rest of your body. The breaker box. The Captain Kirk to your USS Enterprise. Maintaining a happy digestive system with all of the good gut flora is crucial for your health.
My Experience: Sometimes I have moments of gratitude for this whole situation. It took my acne and candida overgrowth for me to get serious about taking care of myself. Gut health is one of my greatest passions and it has connected me to my body in a way I didn’t know anything could. Wow just a quick love letter to gut health here I guess!!!
What: Goldenseal is a plant that grows in the hardwood forests. It has been used for thousands of years to treat things ranging from cancer to digestive issues. It is seemingly cure-all plant with anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties. We’re all about those anti-fungal properties when trying to heal a candida overgrowth. A study in 2011 found that the active ingredient in goldenseal, berberine, seemed to inhibit the growth of some forms of candida.
My Experience: This shit keeps my shit goin’!!! Alright let’s try that again. I drink this in congruence with Pau d’arco tea and it is absolutely what I believe keeps my candida at healthy levels now.
*Goldenseal should not be taken while pregnant
What: Another plant??? Call me a witch if you want but Pau d’arco has shown to reduce inflammation, fight viruses, and make candida its bitch (That last part shouldn’t be used for scientific reference). A study of one of the helpful compounds in Pau d’arco, lapachol, found that it has a similar effect on candida albicans as pharmaceutical drugs.
My Experience: I’ve been a big fan of it in both tincture and tea form for a while. When I am drinking it consistently, I absolutely notice a huge difference in how I feel because of not only the anti-fungal properties of Pau d’arco, but also due to its multiple healing properties.
What: Fluconazole (Diflucan) is used as a treatment and preventative for fungal and yeast infections. It is an anti-fungal and has to be prescribed by a prescribing physician. Fluconazole can be hard on your liver and has drug interactions, so make sure you are educated on this before taking it!
My Experience: I took Diflucan as it was prescribed by my OBGYN, on occasion. It absolutely helped, but was a band-aid for the problem. I am not one to rely on prescription medications, but I’ll be honest with you, sometimes I just couldn’t tough it out. When an infection is so uncomfortable that it affects your sleep, mood, and general wellbeing, I don’t think there’s any shame in seeking help while you heal. I’ve never found any information that Diflucan hinders the healing process of candida overgrowth, so it was a no-brainer for me sometimes. Why sometimes? The severity of the individual breakout was always considered in this decision, but I believe in letting my body detox on its own as best as it can. Long-term infections can be dangerous, so this was something I discussed with my primary care physician and educated myself on. I did what felt best for my body.
What: According to multiple sources hydrogen peroxide can “kill” yeast and help to restore it to normal levels. You can IV it in, soak in it, douche it, and I’m sure there are other ways as well.
My Experience: Listen I was desperate and this was not one of my finest moments. I read about it and I just thought it couldn’t get much worse right? Wrong. I put hydrogen peroxide in my vagina and sat with my torso upside down for 10-15 minutes at a time. multiple… times…. I do not recommend. Didn’t hurt, just didn’t help.
What: A way to “wash” out the vagina with medications, water, and/ or vinegar. Let me start this by saying that your vagina does not need washing. Douches are typically completely unnecessary and can actually lead to vaginal yeast infections. When the pH balance of your vagina is thrown off, it can be the perfect storm allowing yeast to set up camp. The only reason, in my opinion, to use douches is when trying to medicate yourself. I used a homeopathic douche called YeastGard (sold at CVS) with a herbal douching solution. Whenever I felt an infection coming on, I douched and did it every day of infection.
My Experience: Temporary relief for sure!!! I don’t have a big comparison to what it felt like to not do them, because I did them every single time. I should’ve bought stock in that YeastGard company.
Is there something else going on???
If you keep having vaginal yeast infections, go to your OBGYN and get a swab! I can’t stress this enough. There is definitely something going on internally, but if you have some kind of viral infection, it can make the healing process so much worse. It is important to rule out all factors.
DISCLAIMERS: Long term yeast infections can be dangerous and can be caused by numerous variables. If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding please check with your doc before beginning any new diet or protocols. If you suspect you have a candida overgrowth do your research and speak with your primary care physician or a qualified specialist.
Hey so, I really hope this helps. Whatever you’re dealing with and whatever led you here, I’m happy to provide you with the info about my own journey. Let me know if you have any questions or leave a comment below!
Calee Shea is a Holistic Health Practioner based in Atlanta, Georgia. She is your go-to gal for all things periods, vaginal health, and sex.