Management of Candida Overgrowth

Management of Candida Overgrowth

Yeast Infections

Otherwise known the vaginal infection that won't let you forget it's there. Candida albicans is the fungal organism responsible for yeast infections. Candida albicans is a common (and normal!) organism found in your body, but if there is an overgrowth can cause uncomfortable symptoms like itching, clumpy discharge, burning of the vulva, and painful intercourse. Maintaining a well balanced vaginal ecology can help minimize the occurrence of vaginal yeast infections.

Even 90% of babies are colonized by it within a few hours of birth. Candida albicans only becomes a problem under certain circumstances, like when there is an overgrowth in the vagina or on the breast.

What causes an overgrowth of Candida albicans?

Pregnancy. Pregnant women have an increase in vaginal discharge during pregnancy. Wearing underwear or pants that don't breathe well in addition to increased vaginal discharge creates the perfect environment for yeast to grow.

Changes in vaginal pH. Changes to vaginal pH can be caused by diet, stress, menstrual cycle, or sex.

Increased consumption of carbohydrates or sugar. These food items easily and readily breed more yeast and can lead to an overgrowth.

Stress, fatigue, weakened immune system. Your immune system can typically keep yeast under control when it’s healthy. If you are stressed, sick, or tired it’s harder for your body to keep up with the demands of managing an overgrowth of yeast.

Hormonal changes due to your menstrual cycle. You might be more prone to yeast infections right before your period and then have them resolve on their own during your period. Blood has a higher pH and can knock out yeast on its own.

Natural Management of Vaginal Yeast infection:

It is very easy to manage yeast infections naturally. Most yeast infections, especially if you don't have a history of yeast infections, clear up with a few changes to the diet and adding in probiotics.

If you are pregnant and have a yeast infection it is best to resolve it prior to the birth of your child so you don't pass the yeast on to your baby. Yeast passed on to baby during childbirth can lead to thrush and candida of the breast in the mother. While both are easy to treat, candida of the breast can be painful for the mother. If you have recurrent yeast infections, more than 4 in a year, it is best to change your diet, take a probiotic and work with your provider to manage your symptoms with a medication called fluconazole.

Dietary changes:

Eliminate or reduce alcohol and sugar. Both of these items readily breed yeast leading to an overgrowth.

Use organic or natural tampons, pads, and lubricants. Many female hygiene products on the market put women at risk for an unbalanced vaginal flora.

Partners pH. Oral sex, semen, and your cycle can cause a change in vaginal pH making it more likely you develop vaginal infections. Use a vaginal probiotic, natural lubricants, condoms, and showering after intercourse can help reduce the incidence of vaginal infections.

Antibiotics. Antibiotics will kill off all bacteria, including the good guys in your intestinal and vaginal flora. Avoid use if possible and/or replace the lost microbiome with probiotics.

Oral and Vaginal Probiotics:

Oral Probiotic: take Lactobacillus reuteri and Lactobacillus rhamnosus, 1-2 capsules daily for 6-24 weeks. Take until you are symptom-free for 6 months.

Vaginal Probiotic: you’re going to alternate products, one day using the above product blend, and the next day, a product containing Lactobacillus crispatus. A number of studies now show that these three probiotic strains can dramatically improve the vaginal ecosystem and heal and prevent vaginal yeast infections by restoring the local flora and resetting the gut microbiome as well. To insert the capsule, use your fingers the way you’d insert a tampon, and gently push the capsule back the length your finger will go or until you feel resistance – whichever comes first. You may want to wear a light pad if you do this treatment during the day, or do this before bed and let it dissolve while you’re sleeping.

Candida of the Breast

If you’ve had recurrent vaginal yeast infections you are more likely to develop candida of the breast while breastfeeding. This can be passed to your baby, often seen as thrush or a diaper rash. Both you and your baby need to be treated if this occurs. It is possible for you to have candida of the breast without your baby having thrush or a diaper rash. And the opposite may be true too- mom doesn’t have signs of candida, but baby does. Either way, both should be treated.

Signs and symptoms of Candida of the Breast:

Painful latch, redness around areola, burning or shooting pain.

These symptoms are similar to a painful latch/nipple damage and Reynaud’s syndrome, which is why it is difficult to diagnose.

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