Is it really vaginal candida?

I see many women in clinic that are concerned they have a yeast infection because they experience thick vaginal fluid. When I run through some of the typical candida related symptoms they are relieved to hear that it is most likely their normal cervical fluid rather than an infection.

Candidiasis is caused by the bacteria candida albicans, which is a commensal bacteria in our gut, bowel and vagina. When our ‘army’ of bacteria tips out of balance candida proliferates causing thrush symptoms.

Symptoms of vaginal thrush

  1. Thick, white vaginal fluid that resembles ‘cottage cheese’, it may smell like yeast or it may have no smell at all
  2. Inflamed and red vulva or vagina, skin can peel or look cracked
  3. Itching or burning sensation in vagina or vulva
  4. Pain with intercourse – may feel scratchy or like a burning sensation
  5. Stinging when urinating

Causes

– Antibiotics

– Other medication that imbalances microflora, including the oral contraceptive pill 

– Hormonal changes throughout your menstrual cycle and pregnancy

– Too much refined sugar, alcohol and processed foods

– Stress and emotional suppression

– Diabetes

– Immune system deficiencies

– Nutrient deficiencies such as iron

– Eczema and other skin conditions

– Wearing yoga tights, wet swimmers for too long (yeast loves a warm, moist environment) and g-strings – (bacteria can travel from anus to vagina)

Diagnoses

Diagnosis is done through a detailed symptom history, visual examination and vaginal swab (performed by a doctor).

Pharmaceutical treatment

Either an anti-fungal pessary or anti-fungal oral tablet. If you experience thrush irregularly (less than 1 x a year) this will often work. However if you experience episodes of 4+ per year and your symptoms continue to come back this treatment is not working and it is important to look into the root cause. There are a number of adverse symptoms that can occur from frequently taking this medication. 

Natural treatment options

– Insert a pro biotic with beneficial vaginal strains (Lactobacillus rhamnosus & Lactobacillus reuteri) into your vagina for 7 nights in a row 

– Dip a tampon in a good quality pro biotic yoghurt and insert into vagina for 7 nights in a row (do not do this while you are menstruating) * Alternate days with the above pro biotic, rather than doing both at the same time

– Remove refined sugar and alcohol until symptoms subside and then consider reducing in diet on a regular basis

– Avoid wearing yoga tights, wet swimmers and g-strings for prolonged periods of time – always wipe front to back when going to the toilet

– Increase anti-fungal foods – raw garlic, pau darco tea, apple cider vinegar, bone broth, collagen powder, good quality organic yoghurt without added sugar

– Insert a lump of organic coconut oil into your vagina to soothe inflammation and burning – coconut oil is a natural anti-fungal

– Reduce stress levels – practice mindfulness, meditation, deep breathing, journalling, yoga, dancing – whatever it is that calms you and makes you feel happy

– Boost immune system, balance hormones and improve digestive and vaginal microflora through herbal and supplemental medicine – If you are interested in individualised care and more information on how to reduce candida breakouts please get in touch here

If not candida, then what?

  1. If you have white, thick fluid with no other signs or symptoms of irritation or smell it is most likely follicular phase fluid. The follicular phase is the first half of your cycle before ovulation where oestrogen and progesterone levels are lower, as oestrogen rises your cervical fluid thins out. *** Note – if you are on any form of hormonal contraception you will not see these mucous changes – these changes happen due to the production of fluctuating endogenous (self made) hormones in our body, which are ‘switched off’ when taking hormonal birth control.

  2. If your cervical fluid is dark yellow or green, has a fishy or off smell it’s most likely a bacterial infection or STD – please have this looked into by a doctor.

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