Help for re­cur­ring yeast in­fec­tions

First For Women - - Love -

I’m 57. In the past year, I’ve had three yeast in­fec­tions on top of vagi­nal dry­ness. My doc­tor pre­scribed es­tro­gen sup­pos­i­to­ries but I don’t like them—they’re messy, and I’d pre­fer a nat­u­ral fix. What can I do?

You’re not alone with this prob­lem: An es­ti­mated 60 per­cent of menopausal women suf­fer from re­cur­rent yeast in­fec­tions. The rea­son? Es­tro­gen is needed to keep vagi­nal cells elas­tic and main­tain a healthy pH en­vi­ron­ment in the vagina, so as lev­els flag in menopause, vagi­nal tis­sue be­comes dry and ir­ri­tated, making the vagi­nal tract more hos­pitable to in­fec­tious bugs. Low-dose es­tro­gen sup­pos­i­to­ries can help, but like you, many women dis­like the sticky tex­ture. (Es­tro­gen ther­apy can also some­times cause nau­sea and ir­reg­u­lar bleed­ing.)

I can sug­gest a few nat­u­ral reme­dies to ward off yeast in­fec­tions. One smart move: shoring up lev­els of “good” vagi­nal bugs by tak­ing a lac­to­bacil­lus pro­bi­otic daily, ei­ther orally or in­serted vagi­nally (which shouldn’t leave any messy residue). In a re­cent Ital­ian study, women with chronic yeast in­fec­tions who in­serted a pro­bi­otic tablet into their vagina (nightly for a week, then twice a week for three weeks) had 87 per­cent fewer re­turn­ing in­fec­tions. One to try: Na­trol Pro­bi­otic High Po­tency, $25 for 30 tablets, Na­trol.com. You can also ap­ply a light­weight mois­tur­iz­ing cream con­tain­ing pro­bi­otics to the area daily to pre­vent dry­ness and in­fec­tions. One to try: Pre­vaLeaf Soothe Cream, $30 for 30 ap­pli­ca­tions, Pre­vaLeaf.com). Fi­nally, I sug­gest lim­it­ing your in­take of car­bo­hy­drates and sugar, which feed yeast.

But if you ex­pe­ri­ence any symp­toms of a yeast in­fec­tion (like burn­ing, ir­ri­ta­tion and clumpy white dis­charge), see your doc­tor for an an­ti­fun­gal pre­scrip­tion. She may also sug­gest other ways to ward off these in­fec­tions. The sore­ness you’re ex­pe­ri­enc­ing is likely due to hor­monal flux that oc­curs in menopause. Changes in es­tro­gen lev­els can trig­ger an in­crease in pro­lactin, a hor­mone that reg­u­lates the mam­mary glands. When pro­lactin gets too high, nip­ples can be­come sen­si­tive and sore.

To re­lieve the pain, try tak­ing 1,000 mg of evening prim­rose oil (like Nordic Nat­u­rals Omega Wo­man Evening Prim­rose Oil Blend, $22 for 120 soft­gels, iHerb.com) daily; it con­tains com­pounds that ease in­flam­ma­tion. You can also try visu­al­iza­tion, which strength­ens your abil­ity to man­age pain. A tech­nique proven to help: Imag­ine a ball of heal­ing en­ergy form­ing in your ch­est and ex­pand­ing through your body as you breathe.

If these reme­dies don’t help, or if the pain lasts more than 4 weeks, see your doc­tor to rule out other causes.

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