No matter how annoying they can be, hormones are extremely important for the balance in your body. Just before and after your menstruation you’re often more susceptible to vaginal thrush. This is a common yeast infection mostly caused by too much of the Candida fungus. 5 Tips for down under from the Dutch therapist and nutritionist Nienke Tode-Gottenbos.
Why especially then? As your oestrogen levels dip just before your period, your vaginal mucosa thins and this causes a change in the pH of your vagina. Some of the good lactobacilli bacteria are knocked down and the Candida, which is naturally present in your body, is allowed to multiply.
It’s all about balance
Just like your intestines, mouth, armpits and belly button (yes, you read that one right), your vagina has an own flora. Bacteria in other words – preferably the good ones. Your friendly neighbourhood bacteria defend against the growth of irritating intruders such as Candida or Streptococcus.A healthy vaginal flora takes care of itself, by making sure it’s well-balanced. In order to do that, you need to help. How? By making sure the healthy bacteria want to stay. So don’t go killing them by using soap and other anti-bacterial products.
Give the good guys a head start
Friendly lactobacilli feed on glucose, which is present in the vaginal mucosa. Unfortunately also the yeast Candida does. It’s a continuous battle of the species. Whoever has the upper hand, feeds more and thus grows faster. Give the good guys a head start by eating probiotic products. This is food that contains ‘gut-friendly’ bacteria such as sweet potato, Jerusalem artichoke, pumpkin, sauerkraut, live-cultured yoghurt such as Biogarde and fatty fish types.
Stay off the sugar, honey!
Candida is a yeast which needs sugar to multiply. Eating too much sugar changes the intestinal flora and contributes to Candida-growth, which isn’t a good thing. Even if your high sugar intake doesn’t allow Candida to grow in your intestines, it can still cause problems ‘down under’.
Clean your business after business
Of course you wash yourself every day (using only water). And naturally you take a shower after having great sex. Yes, it might be unromantic, but your partner’s semen alters your vaginal pH, making it less acidic. That is annoying because this acidity protects you against developing thrush. So instead of cuddling for hours, have a wash first.
Don’t smother yourself
No, bacteria don’t need oxygen. But wearing tight underwear made of nylon and polyester creates a warm and moist environment. And guess what develops exceptionally well in such conditions? You’re right: yeast infections. To avoid this, try wearing looser fitting cotton underwear. Also take care when using sanitary towels and panty liners: the plastic layer that prevents leaking doesn’t allow for a free circulation of air. Scented sanitary products or pads with added chemicals are also not a good idea.
More tips? Nienke Tode-Gottenbos of De Groene Vrouw is herbalist, therapist (specialised in the intestines) and a nutritionist. She has her own skin care line and a web shop with skin care products and supplements. She also writes catching blogs. Like ‘Ten tips for a healthy snooch. Don’t you just love that word?’. Unfortunately her website is only in Dutch.