If you’re the proud owner of a vagina, you’d know nothing ruins your day more than a yeast infection. And, as the heat rises, unfortunately so too does your chance of developing thrush -- the result of an overgrowth of yeast -- or, in scientific terms, Candida albicans.
While yeast is a normal inhabitant of the vagina, certain factors can cause an imbalance resulting in uncomfortable itching and burning, white discharge that resembles a cottage cheese-like appearance, redness and swelling as well as pain during sex.
Sounds like fun! Not. Which is why many of us plagued with the itch have turned to natural remedies combined with over-the-counter medicine in the hope for instant relief -- but just how helpful are they?
“Your first port of call should always be an over-the-counter anti-fungal treatment,” Dr Devora Lieberman, obstetrics and gynecology specialist told The Huffington Post Australia.
This will be in the form of an oral tablet or cream which works to treat the infection.
“If it doesn’t improve it is important to see your GP as it may not be thrush you are dealing with -- or, if episodes are recurrent it could be a sign of a medical condition like diabetes,” Lieberman said.
When it comes to natural remedies, there is little scientific evidence to support things like yoghurt and garlic being useful treatments however, Lieberman said a probiotic inserted vaginally can be beneficial in soothing the burn.
“In the past, women have inserted natural yoghurt into their vagina however, that can get a bit messy -- instead, look for a probiotic tablet,” Lieberman said.
Of course, prevention is the best medicine though, so it is important to understand why thrush develops in the first place.
“The increased risk during summer is due to the fact that yeast loves a warm environment -- making long days spent around the pool in wet bathers the perfect breeding ground,” Lieberman said.
This means you should minimise time spent wearing wet bathers, choose cotton underwear and lose the underwear completely when you go to sleep at night.
Using scented hygiene products is also a no-no both for preventing and attempting to treat the infection.
Lieberman said using things like tea tree oil to treat thrush isn’t a good idea either and could end up doing more harm than good.
“Some patients with chronic thrush will avoid yeast-based products like alcohol as well including yoghurt in their daily diet,” Lieberman said.