Getting to the Root Cause of Recurring Vaginal Yeast Infections

Here’s an excerpt from an article I wrote this week for Naturopathic Doctor News & Reviews:

Most women experience it at least once in their lifetime: that itching, burning, irritated and white chunky discharge that signifies a vaginal yeast infection. A one-off yeast infection is no big deal, you just head to the nearest pharmacy, grab some over the counter yeast infection treatment and Bob’s your uncle. But, there are many women for whom the OTC treatments just plain don’t work or they only work temporarily and the yeast infection recurs within a few weeks or months. If you are one of these unfortunate ones that yeast is driving batty, here are some ways to get at the root of the yeast problem for good:

First off, is it really yeast? If swabs came back clear then:

  • Repeat the swab. Lab tests aren’t fool proof, sometimes mistakes are made.
  • Itching, burning, irritation and discharge signify vaginal irritation, but not necessarily from yeast. Look for another possible cause such as bacterial overgrowth (bacterial vaginosis), food sensitivities, allergies to latex condoms or spermicides, vaginal dryness, hormone imbalances and even allergies to semen.

If vaginal swabs did show yeast and symptoms improved with yeast treatment but yeast came back. Then we have to ask, why is your system so receptive to yeast? Here are some possible avenues to explore with your naturopathic doctor:

  • Pregnancy
  • Birth control pills  and HRT
  • Antibiotics
  • Inadequate progesterone production
  • Disordered glucose metabolism and diabetes 
  • A weakened immune system
  • Use of vaginal hygiene products, such as douches and bubble bath that alter the vaginal pH
  • Iron Deficiency Anemia
  • Anti-fungal resistance
  • Changes in vaginal pH throughout the menstrual cycle.
  • Sexually transmitted reinfection

A naturopathic physician can help balance hormones, restore healthy vaginal and digestive tract flora, correct iron deficiency and improve immune function for lasting improvement from recurring yeast infections.