Yeast infections are the bane of every woman, and especially those who are pregnant.
Pregnancy increases your risk for a vaginal yeast infection, also known as vulvovaginal candidiasis. This type of infection is caused by microscopic fungi in the Candida family, most commonly Candida albicans.
About three out of every four women will have at least one yeast infection in their lifetime and up to 45 percent will get two or more infections, according to an article published in American Family Physician in 2011 .
During pregnancy, infections caused by Candida are even more common. A 2009 study published in Canadian Family Physician found that yeast infections affect three out of four women in their lifetimes, and the infection occurs more frequently in pregnant women. Higher estrogen levels and higher glycogen content in vaginal secretions during pregnancy increase a woman’s risk of developing a yeast infection .
Similarly, a 2016 study published in Folia Medica reports that yeast is more likely to cause an infection during pregnancy due to hormone fluctuations .
Several studies make it clear that the reasons for this increased risk during pregnancy include a shift in the balance of vaginal microorganisms and a high estrogen level in the body. Other factors that can increase a woman’s risk of infection include reduced immune system activity, use of antibiotics, diabetes and an unhygienic lifestyle.
Symptoms of a yeast infection may include itchiness, irritation, soreness, burning, redness and sometimes swelling in your vagina and labia; discomfort or pain during sex; burning sensation during urination; and vaginal odors and discharge.
However, experiencing these symptoms does not always mean that you are have a yeast infection. Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) have similar symptoms. So, proper diagnosis is vital to a successful treatment plan.
It is important to treat a yeast infection quickly, especially during pregnancy when it might pose additional risks.
A 2015 review article published in Current Infectious Disease Reports states that a vaginal yeast infection during pregnancy might increase the risk for premature labor and delivery as well as low birth weight, oral thrush in the newborn baby, and infection of the membranes and fluid surrounding the baby .
Oral antifungal medication is typically not recommended during pregnancy to avoid exposing your baby to the medicine.
To treat the problem, you can use some simple and effective remedies that are generally safe for you and the baby growing inside you. It’s always a good idea to consult your obstetrician to ensure that use of a particular home remedy is appropriate and safe for your individual health status.
Here are the top 10 home remedies for yeast infections during pregnancy.
Apple cider vinegar is acidic in nature, which helps kill the fungus causing the infection. The enzymes in it also prevent the fungus that causes a yeast infection from multiplying or growing.
Plus, apple cider vinegar can regulate your body’s pH balance.
Garlic is one of nature’s gifts to fight yeast infections.
It helps destroy Candida and inhibits its growth, thus helping fight the root of the problem. The organosulfur constituents like ajoene present in garlic have the ability to inhibit certain Candida species.
It also helps stimulate the immune system.
Yogurt is a good remedy for treating yeast infections in pregnant women. Probiotic yogurt contains acidophilus and live cultures that stimulate the growth of good bacteria, which in turn helps fight yeast and other microbes.
Also, yogurt helps improve your digestive health and enhances your immune system functioning.
Coconut oil is another very effective remedy to treat a yeast infection, due to its antifungal properties.
The lauric acid and caprylic acid in it are responsible for its antimicrobial properties. It can kill the yeast when taken orally in small amounts and also when applied topically.
You can eat 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of coconut oil a day to reap its health benefits.
Indian lilac, also known as neem, is a great remedy to fight a yeast infection during pregnancy.
The constituent compounds nimbidol and edunin in neem have antifungal effects. It also boosts the body’s immune system to help combat Candida fungi.
Plus, it will reduce itching and other discomforts.
Cranberries are known to be a very effective remedy for yeast infections. These small berries contain a compound called arbutin that helps kill Candida albicans.
Including more fermented foods in your diet can also help treat a yeast infection during pregnancy.
Fermented foods like sourdough, kombucha, kefir and sauerkraut are full of healthy probiotics (such as lactobacilli) that help kill the yeast and keep it from growing out of control.
Such foods also increase the population of beneficial microbes. They also increase the availability of nutrients in the body.
Aloe vera contains vitamins, enzymes and amino acids that help inhibit the growth of Candida that causes yeast infections. It also has anti-inflammatory, anti-irritating and antifungal properties that help control the symptoms.
When it comes to yeast infections, high sugar intake can worsen the symptoms. This happens as sugar supports the growth of yeast in the vagina. Thus, cutting down on sugary foods can help control and treat yeast infections.
During pregnancy, some women may have more cravings for sugary foods and avoiding such foods can be problematic. But for your benefit, you need to avoid or reduce the intake of sugary foods.
Avoid soda, candy bars, chocolates, ice cream, pastries and cookies. Also, cut out hidden sugars present in sugary sauces, salad dressings, barbecue sauces, etc.
If you crave something sweet, switch to fruit or drink tea or fresh fruit juices.
At the same time, keep yourself hydrated by drinking an ample amount of water, so that you urinate frequently. Frequent urination will help get any excess sugar out of your system as soon as possible.
Good hygiene can play a key role in preventing and treating a vaginal yeast infection during pregnancy.
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