Vaginal Health Series - Part I Yeast
Vaginal Health Series
Vaginal concerns are something we see frequently in the clinic. They are uncomfortable, confusing and frustrating if you are unsure of what you are dealing with. This is because sometimes they can present with little to no symptoms, or they can recur even after having used conventional treatments such as antibiotics and anti-fungals (canesten). We notice a great deal of shame and secrecy around our vaginal health. More often than not we feel women are embarrassed or withhold information that may be concerning them. We are here to say these things are COMMON and they need to be treated appropriately. Knowledge is power and there are answers, so don’t be afraid to ask your health care practitioner!
We work with patients to help them understand the root cause of their concerns. We treat them internally to prevent recurrence and provide natural alternatives to managing flares to minimize need for antibiotics (which can increase the risk of it returning).
The most common vaginal infections we treat in clinic are yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis.
PART I YEAST
Yeast infections are the result of an overgrowth of a fungal organism called candida albicans. Candida albicans is a naturally occurring organism in our body. It exists in our gut, our skin and our vaginal canal. However, when this yeast overgrows it disrupts our natural flora and manifests in uncomfortable symptoms. Vaginally, it presents with pain, itching and redness of the canal. Vaginal discharge changes often present as white, thick, and sometimes resembles cottage cheese. It is often odor-less, but can sometimes have a smell similar to bread (yeast). Depending on the severity of the infection it can cause micro tearing or fissures. Both of which contribute to increased pain and are worsened with intercourse.
*Province Apothecary Sex Oil, is an amazing treatment to heal and reduce pain from fissures. Coconut oil and vitamin e nourish and heal the mucosal cells of the vaginal canal to speed up healing and reduce pain.
Risk factors for developing yeast infections :
Antibiotic use - damages and disrupt natural gut and vaginal flora.
Birth Control Pills and Contraception with Synthetic Estrogen (Nuva Ring and Hormone Replacement Therapy) - estrogen levels play a big role in vaginal health
Pregnancy and Menopause - estrogen levels play a big role in vaginal health
Sexual Activity - can be transmitted between partners, which increase risk of re-infection. Your partner needs to be treated and protection must be used when healing.
Potential underlying causes of recurrence:
Poor hygiene. Not always in the typical sense of “being dirty”. Hygiene refers to exposure to the genital and vaginal environment. Excess heat and moisture to the vaginal canal and genital area can help promote growth of yeast and disrupt our natural vaginal flora.
Switch to cotton underwear and reducing materials such as spandex, lycra and polyester.
Avoiding sitting in a wet bathing suit if swimming frequently or during the summer months.
Wiping front to back to avoid bacteria from the rectum coming in contact with the vaginal canal.
Avoiding scented products and douching of the vaginal area as this damages the microflora of the vagina.
Chronic Vaginal dysbiosis. Dysbiosis is defined as an imbalance of the good bacteria to bad bacteria in the gut. It occurs for various reasons ; synthetic estrogens (birth control and hormone replacement therapy), antibiotic exposure, and stress. Ultimately vaginal dysbiosis begins in the gut and therefore any stress related damage to the gut (chronic stress, work burn out, anxiety, continued exposure to processed foods and sugar etc) will contribute to vaginal health. Dysbiosis is treated internally and externally with
Cultured Coconut - daily food based live probiotic. To help repopulate and maintain healthy gut microflora. Used for 3-6 months, but often recommended as a daily health practice to maintain optimal gut health.
Flora SAP - vaginal probiotic suppository to provide local repopulation of the vaginal flora. This treatment can vary from 10 days to 1 month depending on the severity of the infection.
Increased OR Decreased Estrogen Levels. Why it happens - estrogen is protective to the vaginal canal and requires balance to maintain a healthy vaginal flora and prevent infection.
What causes increases in estrogen : hormonal contraceptives, hormone replacement therapy and pregnancy. What causes decreases in estrogen : menopause.
Having balanced estrogen levels is key to preventing re-occurrence of infection. Treatment for hormone balance will vary with every patient, but always and important piece of the puzzle.
Chronic Blood Sugar Dysregulation. Changes in blood sugar metabolism or due to diabetes, poly cystic ovarian syndrome(PCOS) , and pregnancy increase your risk of yeast infections. Yeast feeds primarily on glucose. Increased blood sugar and issues with metabolizing it provide more glucose to sustain yeast overgrowth. This is addressed using diet and exercise to optimize sugar metabolism in the blood.
Immune Suppression or Insufficiency . Lastly, our immune systems need to be functioning optimally to help fight yeast overgrowth and maintain a healthy gut flora. Auto-immune disease, chronic stress, burnout or anxiety, nutrient deficiencies and poor sleep quality are all large contributors to immune suppression.
IV nutrient therapy to boost and increase immune function is used to clear and prevent infection. This is paired closely with managing the root cause of immune suppression (I.e stress/burnout, anxiety, poor sleep etc).
Book Now To Heal and Prevent Yeast Infections for Good!
Your EASTND Naturopathic Team